VERSAILLES – Connor VanSkyock enters this high school golf season with a bit of a chip on his shoulders.
The Versailles junior was one stroke shy of being in a playoff to get out of the Division II sectional tournament last year. He said that his been a big motivating factor for the work he has put in this summer.
“I feel like I missed an opportunity at sectionals last year,” VanSkyock said. “There was one hole where I had a bad chip and then three-putted and I ended up being one stroke out of the playoff to get out of sectionals.
“That has really motivated me this summer,: he continued. “I’ve been out here every day that I could. I hit the practice green a couple of times, but a lot of it was just staying out here trying to get every single hole out here down and get a game plan for every hole out here so I can show my whole potential this year.”
His dad, Versailles boys golf coach Shaun VanSkyock, agreed.
“Connor has been very motivated this summer,” Shaun VanSkyock said. “He’ll tell me he is going out to the golf course and I won’t see him for 8-10 hours. I know he is not out there just playing a round. He is practicing too. There have been days when he’ll play 18, go work on some stuff and then play 18 more. He’s wanting to get better, he is getting better and it is showing.
“So now it is getting exciting because it’s about time to start showing what all that work has done,” he continued. “We’ll see how he does in the tournaments we have coming up here at the start of the year and see of he can contend to be a medalist in any of them or close to it.”
That would be just one of several goals Connor has set for himself this season.
“I’d like to shoot in the 30s here at our home course every time and in the 70s every time for all tournaments,” Connor said. “I want to win the MAC individually and I am looking to get out of sectionals this year.”
He admitted to those being some hefty goals, but in turn he also recognizes after last season that he needs to take some pressure off his game.
“Last year I put way too much pressure on myself,” Connor said. “I wanted to be medalist of every single match, but my dad wants me to take some of that pressure off this year and focus on having a little more fun.”
It’s only been a few practice rounds so far this year, but the Tigers No.1 player says he feels as though he has done well so far in that area. The other thing he wants to focus on improving is his approach shots.
“It was the weakest part of my game last year,” Connor said. “I do feel like I have improved there over the summer so now it’s just going to be about making sure I am in good shape off the tee on every hole.”
As far the Versailles team is concerned, they have lots of experience returning this year including five seniors.
“The good news is we have six of our top seven kids back from last year which means we have a lot of experience,” Coach VanSkyock said. “We also have three sophomores back and five new freshmen so I am hoping to draw on that experience to help lead the younger kids with advice on how to handle a golf course, how to behave and how to strategize.
“With that much experience back the younger kids should be able to look up to these guys for some help,” he added.
Some of those younger players could compete for some varsity time too.
“We’ve only had a few days of practice, but so far the freshmen have some potential out there,” Coach VanSkyock said. “I think there are seven or eight kids vying for those top six spots in the first tournament, so its really up in the air. It’s good to have competition. It helps drive people to play better and then we can see how they respond to some pressure.”
There will be all kinds of pressure when it comes to the sectional tournament if Versailles expects to contend for one of the four district team-qualifying spots. The Division II sectional at Pipestone Golf Course in Miamisburg includes teams the likes of Alter, Oakwood, Clinton-Massie and Eaton, last year’s four district-qualifying teams, as well as Fenwick, Valley View and Chaminade Julienne among others.
“I would love to surprise everybody and get out as a team because it is so difficult but we will just have to play and see what happens,” Coach VanSkyock said. “As far as individuals we should have two or three guys that are thinking they want to try to get out of sectionals this year and if they are playing their best at that time I think there are three individuals that could vie for those positions to get out. But if we have three guys shooting low enough to get out as individuals then we should be competing as a team. Bottom line is everybody has to play their best. It’s high pressure at that point in the year and we’ll just see how they respond to it.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.