Fifteen years ago, my uncle introduced me to the game of golf. Ever since, the game and I have had a love-hate relationship but it’s always there for me when I need it.
I graduated from Northwest Area in 2007. During my four varsity years, I played golf in a co-op with Benton-Northwest. Along with my older brother and two older cousins, we were the only Northwest players contributing to the team at the time. We won a District 4 team championship in 2004, thanks to local star Tyler Brewington.
Springtime means golf is just around the corner as local courses start to open, and most look green as could be. We played Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club last weekend. The course was recently named the No. 1 public course in Pennsylvania by Golf Advisor and rightfully so. Yes, I stepped into the woods on the first hole and saw a snake. That’s a bad omen. Next time I snap hook a driver into the thick stuff, I’ll think twice about going after it.
One of my greatest memories while playing in high school wasn’t the district title, but being the only Northwest player on the team my senior year. I routinely got out of school at noon to go to golf matches (In District 4, matches were 18 holes as opposed to 9 holes in District 2). We had a match at Mill Race Golf Course against Sullivan County and there to see me were my mom and my cousin Anthony. At the time, Anthony was battling a sickness and that was the first time he had been out of his house in a while. I went on to shoot one of my better rounds in high school — a medalist, even-par 70 at the course in Benton. Having my mom and my cousin there to see that meant the world to me.
Once I graduated from high school, golf was not on my radar in college. I was asked to play baseball at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. However, when former PSU-WB Athletic Director Jack Monnick approached me, I decided to play. That led to a pair of Penn State University Athletic Conference championships while playing with the likes of local players Michael Haley, Stephen Sabol, Bobby Kanarski, Justin Sherin and Zach Aciukewicz.
The PSUAC conference championships both years — 2007 and 2008 — were played at Penn State’s Blue Course in State College. At the time, my brother Doug was the No. 2 golfer for Williamsport’s Penn College. Lo and behold, we ended up playing together in the final round of the 2008 tournament. Those kind of memories stick out.
College was a growing experience but thoughts of playing golf with my family never left my mind.
Throughout the summer months, my family participates in many charity golf tournaments. My brother, my two cousins and I are usually in contention for championships. But we’re a different breed — that makes it all the more fascinating. When we take the course, there’s no pressure or bickering. We get out there, hack it around and turn in solid scores.
Playing golf in high school with those three will always be a memory. But each year when we hit the course, new memories are written — memories of chunked pitch shots and worm-burner tee shots. There are memories of winning long drive contests and closest to the pin contests — memories of nailing 60-foot putts. There are even memories of re-routing our golf carts to make it back to the keg. It’s all in good fun.
In a few short weeks, we’ll begin the Mill Race Tuesday Night League, of which my brother is the commissioner. Once again, memories will be at the top of the priority list.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick