Published: Mar 10, 2013 04:35 PM
Modified: Mar 10, 2013 04:37 PM
Winter had been a long time in leaving the Carolinas this year, with cold and rainy days delaying more than one athletic event in the Triangle.
But that hasn’t prevented East Chapel Hill junior Ben Griffin from getting off to a hot start on local golf courses.
Griffin shot a six-under-par on the front nine of the Chapel Hill Country Club last week to earn medalist honors in the season’s first PAC-6 golf match. He led East Chapel Hill to a narrow victory over runner-up Riverside and four other league opponents.
Even for those counting on their fingers, it doesn’t take a lot of calculation to realize that Griffin’s 30 would translate into 12 under par for 18 holes, albeit that not all sides of a golf layout are created equal.
“That’s a pretty amazing score for anyone,” says East Chapel Hill coach Bobby Neville, a local coaching veteran who’s worked with high school teams for 22 years. “He’s just 16. That’s what kills me.”
Conditions were far from perfect last Monday for the PAC-6 match. “It hasn’t been good weather for golf,” as Neville observes.
Still, East Chapel Hill got four solid scores from its starters. Josh Fried carded a 38 for a top-10 finish, while Nathaniel Pritchard shot a 40 and Chase Yuan a 41.
That gave East a 149 total, one in front of Riverside’s 150. Northern Durham totaled 159, nine strokes behind their archrivals. Jordan (184) and Person (192) were well back, while Hillside (233) and Southern Durham (252) had to take extra strokes for lacking a complete foursome.
Individually, Griffin’s win was by a wider margin than his team’s.
Newt Barringer’s 35 led five Riverside teammates who finished in the top 10. The Pirates’ Alex Brese and Joe Jongkind both shot 38 to tie Fried and Northern’s Luke Perry for fourth place, while Junior Schrick and Carson Hunt had 39s to tie for eighth. Northern’s Michael Wicker took third place with his 37.
Griffin’s 30 came on the heels of a 31 shot barely a week before in a scrimmage match. Combined with his 30, that’d be a 61 for a complete round, notes Neville.
It’s a great start to the 2013 season for Griffin, who won the N.C. High School Athletics Association 4A championship as a freshman.
Griffin finished 10th in last year’s NCHSAA championship. His response was to work even harder.
“He works as hard as any person I’ve ever seen,” Neville says, noting Griffin often arrives early for matches and stays around the course to practice putting for another 30 minutes after others have left. “And he has a great attitude.”
As everyone knows who’s read the works of sports psychologist Dick Coop, approaching a course with the right mindset is as important as addressing the ball properly.
“I’ve never seen Ben get upset. He’s very mature on the golf course, and he handles pressure extremely well,” Neville says. “He’s a very intelligent golfer.
“He has a great swing, too. That helps.”