June 15, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Chase Taylor knows he can be better.
If the past two months are any indication, Taylor could start hitting the scores he''s looking for any time now.
On May 2, the New Hope High School golfer won the 14- to 15-year-old group at the Optimist Club tournament at the Mississippi State Golf Course.
The victory earned him a chance to play today and Tuesday in the district tournament in Meridian. The winner will go to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play in the International tournament in July
"A few months ago, I was probably trying to swing too hard and going down after it and trying to hit it a mile," Taylor said. "I finally realized if you take a nice, smooth swing and bring it straight back and straight through and don''t try to kill it and you will hit it straight.
"I also have learned that the short game really lowers your score."
Taylor''s victory last month is just part of what is turning out to be a very successful "offseason."
He came in second in the 14-15 age group June 9 at the Forest County Club Junior Classic at Forest County Club.
On May 8, Taylor, who is from Columbus, shot a 75 to win the 14-15 age division at the Northeast Coca-Cola Junior Golf tournament on at River Birch Golf Course in Amory.
Ryan Lacy shot a 76 to take second
In the 12- to 13 year-old age division, Austin Fitch, of Columbus, was runner-up with a score of 81. Hayden Buckley, of Tupelo, won with a 78.
Taylor, 15, also made a hole in one in district play at Fulton during district play. New Hope High coach Drew McBrayer, Chase''s father, Bobby, and Bradley Tate, Caledonia High golf coach, witnessed the shot.
But Taylor said he typically uses the high school season as a warmup for the spring and the summer season, when he really gets to focus on his game. He said he shot a low round in the mid 70s during high school season but is now shooting in that range consistently, and hopes to get even lower.
"I know I can play better than I am," Taylor said. "I just have to carry what I have learned here (at the MSU Golf Course) out to the course."
Tony Luczak, the director for the MSU Institute of Golf, has worked with Taylor for the past two to three years, and he said Taylor is putting all of the pieces to his game together. He said Taylor''s improvement on his swing and on the mental side off the game is helping him better manage his shots and is leading to lower scores.
"Being in school he doesn''t have time to come out here," Luczak said. "He didn''t qualify for states this year. If you take a look at what he was shooting a month ago to where he is now, we have saved 10 shots. That is a combination of the full swing development, working on his short game, and that consistent practice the summer allows him to do."
Luczak said he isn''t surprised at how much improvement Taylor has made. He feels he can knock another eight shots off his score because he has the height and the size that will help him be even longer off the tee as he gets older.
Luczak feels Taylor feels Taylor has the potential to earn a scholarship to play golf at a Division I school, and to do more than that.
"If he continues to learn and to develop and if he does a little more with his fitness in the offseason and more with the weights, there is no reason he couldn''t play on (the PGA) Tour," Luczak said. "Our job is to develop the full potential of the player."
Taylor credits Luczak for helping him take the next step in his game. He said the improvement he has seen in his game has motivated him to work even harder to see even bigger gains.
"He teaches you in a way that you get it really easily," Taylor said.
Taylor is one of 11 players on the first-year travel team that plays at the MSU Golf Course. For more information on the travel team program, call Luczak at 662-325-3028.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.