March 28, 2013 10:43:26 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
CALEDONIA -- Trent Humber knows his strengths.
The Caledonia High School senior acknowledges his drives off the tee might not be as far as other players. That's OK, though, because Humber knows he can make up for what he lacks in driving distance with his putting and chipping.
Those two elements, which Humber calls the strongest parts of his game, played key roles in helping him realize a goal Wednesday when he signed a scholarship to play golf at East Mississippi Community College next season.
Two weeks ago, Humber played a round of 18 holes with members of the EMCC team. EMCC coach Dale Peay rode in a golf cart and watched the round to see how Humber fared and how he interacted with the Lions. Even though the round was similar to one he would play with his high school teammates, Humber said it felt different.
"I was nervous," Humber said. "They were outdriving me, but for the most part, I played with them."
Humber said he could have shot better than the 79 he believes he carded. He said Peay told him after the round what he could offer him in terms of a scholarship. He said he thought about his options for nearly two weeks before deciding to accept.
"I was surprised," Humber said. "I thought I could realize (his goal to play golf in college) if I just kept practicing. I have improved a lot. Every year I do my average it has gotten better by three strokes a year."
Caledonia High coach Bradley Tate, who has coached Humber since his seventh-grade year, said Humber has polished his game at the prep level and should be able to transition well to college competition. He said Humber played in matches as a seventh-grader and has gained valuable experience that should serve him well as he moves forward. Trent's brother, Parker, is an eighth-grader on the Caledonia High team.
"Not only is he a great golfer, he is a great kid," Tate said. "He doesn't cut up, he doesn't give anybody any trouble, he makes good grades. He is the ideal teenager. I have a 4-year-old. I would love for my son to grow up and have the qualities he has. He is a great kid on and off the course."
Humber remembers starting out with a 50 average as a seventh-grader. He now shoots par and will look to improve on a sixth-place finish (even par and 2-over-par) at the Mississippi High School Activities Association state meet. He credits his putting and chipping game for helping him lower his average and for giving him the confidence to know he can work out of just about any jam.
"I putt for an hour every day after practice," Humber said. "I spend the same amount of time working on my chipping."
Peay has had plenty of golfers from Caledonia High come through his program. Even though he knows the student-athletes are going to be fine golfers, students, and representatives of the school, he still likes to see the players on the course and interact with his players. He said the round Humber played at Lion Hills Club in Columbus validated a lot of what he already knew about Humber.
"We think Trent is going to be a really good golfer for us, and we are looking forward to having him come in and play as a freshman and contribute to our team," Peay said. "He could have had a really good round that day. I think he was a little disappointed in how he played, but he showed the potential and we felt like he could be a part of our team and contribute next season.
"He hits the ball in play. He is not a long hitter. He is not worried about seeing how far he can hit it. He puts the ball in play, and when you can find your ball you can score.
"He knows what his strengths are. He knows if he gets the ball around the green he is going to get the ball close and make the putt. When you're confident in your short game you're going to score good most of the time."
Humber knows he will have to raise his level at EMCC. He also believes he will increase his driving distance as he gets bigger and stronger. Still, though, he feels he will be able to rely on his chipping and putting to help him match what anybody else does.
"As long as you can chip and putt you can still beat them," Humber said.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.