Despite having a crop of returning players and a bunch of newcomers for the 2018 season, Mercer boy’s golf are going through tough times.
Phil Williams, who has worked along side Head Coach Jay Anderson for the last 12 seasons, passed away in late July.
TItans gold has dedicated this season in memory of Coach Williams.
“I don’t know where to start. We had a special bond that ran much deeper than our shared passion for the game of golf. I miss him everyday. We are lucky in the course of our lifetime to experience the deep impact of the human spirit and purity of the human heart,” said Anderson. “Luckily for me, I experienced firsthand coaching alongside him the pat 12 seasons. I am a better person, husband, father, coach and teacher because of Phil Williams.”
Anderson said Williams leaves behind a lasting legacy and will always be a special part of Mercer golf.
“Phil was in his element coaching golf as he loved people and the game. While it was easy to see his love for the game in preparation for practices, matches and tournaments, they way he fostered relationships with our players was his true calling,” said Anderson. “To me, this is his lasting legacy as defined in the tears and hugs shared with countless players following his death. Phil loved people and he loved BIG.”
Mercer golf is also going through the transition of losing players to graduation and gaining newcomers. Colton Darland, Kody Coontz, Roston Southworth, Zach Long and Ty Divine graduated last season and Anderson knows these type of student athletes are hard to replace.
“It’s just another example of the great individuals I have been honored to coach. All will make positive impacts wherever they go and I will be proud to say they represented our program,” he said. “They have been around practice at times this year and it has been great to see them. You can see their excitement for what the future holds for our program.”
Junior Reed Gritton is expected to make a lot of noise this season, and is also expected to challenge for the region crown. Anderson said Gritton has been a leader that this team needs and does a great job leading by example.
“This is Reed’s team. He does a great job leading by example on and off the course,” said Anderson. “I have good players on my team, but also great individuals. Golf is a sport that really does not lend itself to vocal leadership and usually I have no problem handling that when necessary.”
Gritton has a high ceiling, and Anderson knows it.
“Sky is the limit for Reed. Confidence is really the only thing he needs to take care of. He is a golf junkie. He eats, sleeps and breathes the sport,” he said. “Being patient and staying the course is something we are working on. You might not always get a return on your investment on your timetable. So while he has made a huge investment in his time and commitment, it’s easy to get discouraged when your play doesn’t match your expectation. Then, your tendency is to look for things to change to get those results, when there is nothing to change. He battles this a bit so we are working on staying the course and developing patience.”
Gritton and sophomore Logan Thompson will be the 1-2 punch in the lineup for Mercer County, followed by junior Jordan Smith and senior Sam Dean.
“The remaining spot will be anyone’s to grab,” said Anderson. “It will be fun watching the younger players battle for this spot.”
John Whited, Regan Southworth, Matthew Mays and Levi Cheek are the newcomers on the team this year. Anderson said he is excited to watch the develop.
Nick Patterson will be taking over as assistant coach, and has a lot of experience in the game. He was a former Titan golfer and played collegiality at St. Catharine College.
“He provides a firsthand knowledge form his experience playing college golf in addition to his theory of managing one’s golf game through a competitive round,” said Anderson.
Anderson said the ultimate goal is to just get better each and everyday.
“Our goal is to simply be better golfers at the end of September than we were at the beginning of July. Ultimately, you want to make it to the state tournament and we have some individuals capable of doing so, but expecting our team to accomplish this would be unrealistic,” he said. “If we focus on getting better everyday than our long-term goals, both as a team and individual, become more realistic.
Mercer golf’s remaining schedule:
(9/1) – Eagle Trace Invitational (A)
(9/4) – East Jessamine (H)
(9/6) – Boyle County (A)
(9/10) – Garrard County (H)
(9/11) – Rockcastle County (H)
(9/13) – Woodford County (A)
(9/15) – CKBC Invitational (A)
(9/18) – Anderson County (H)
(9/20) – Anderson County (A)
(9/24) – 4th Regional Tournament