High school golf doesn’t get a lot of attention, but perhaps it should.
Most of the time, these kids toil in relative anonymity. There aren’t thousands of fans watching their every move, like there are during football games under the Friday night lights. Golf matches aren’t the centerpiece of homecoming weeks.
Instead, their “crowds” might include two golf carts of parents and grandparents. Instead of the Friday night lights, they get weekday morning tee times. Few, if any, of their peers have ever seen them play.
And they’re rarely the focal point of a pep rally.
But Tooele’s Bridger Holmes should be the exception. Anyone who’s ever played (or, in my case, attempted to play) golf will appreciate what he just pulled off this week at Birch Creek Golf Course in Smithfield.
As most golfers will tell you, the sport is anything but easy. For many of them, merely shooting somewhere below 100 is a huge accomplishment. Scoring par on a hole is reason for celebration. But Holmes shot even par for 36 holes — and in a high-pressure situation, to boot. He was one stroke away from being in a playoff for the Class 4A individual state championship when all was said and done on Tuesday.
As hard as golf is in a non-competitive environment, imagine what Holmes was dealing with. Your team is battling to make the cut on Monday, and hoping for a top-five finish on Tuesday. Any mistake — a wayward tee shot, a bad lie, a missed putt — could make all the difference.
But, there you are, in contention for individual medalist honors. Again, one mistake could send you tumbling down the leaderboard. It’s a pressure cooker, for sure. Anybody would have a hard time staying composed — let alone a teenager.
But Holmes thrived. He was right there, knocking on the door, when most people would have faltered. He showed that he belongs in the conversation when it comes to the best young golfers in Utah.
It’s the biggest accomplishment that few people know about. And, truth be told, if high-school golfers wanted to be constantly in the spotlight, they’d be football players.
But Holmes’ accomplishment doesn’t deserve to be ignored. It deserves to be celebrated. Hopefully, the Tooele High community will do just that.
Being one of the best at a sport that requires a lot of skill and natural-born talent? Awesome. Being one of the best at a sport that requires a lot of skill and natural-born talent, but also requires laser-like focus and will chew you up and spit you out the moment you get flustered? Unbelieveable.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He, too, has shot 72 for a round of golf. Unfortunately for him, that score only required nine holes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.