Noah Gillard knows standing 6-foot-7 has a way of inviting expectations.
The No. 2 golfer for defending state runner-up Center Grove as a freshman, the 165-pound Gillard eases into the top position this season.
Not only is he among the tallest boys golfers in the state, he’s one of the best.
Gillard’s shot-making ability, combined with a temperament as smooth as his follow-through, has attracted notice from approximately 30 Division I men’s golf programs, including offers from Indiana, Purdue and Ball State.
Gillard said he’ll wait until after his junior season to make a final decision, which is a long way off for someone whose sophomore campaign doesn’t start until an April 6 match against Plainfield.
Gillard’s focus is on helping lead the Trojans boys golf team to its first state championship later this spring. His 36-hole score of 145 earned him a tie for ninth-place at the 2015 IHSAA State Meet at Prairie View Golf Course in Carmel.
Gillard helped lead the way to state with a team-best 72 at the Southport Sectional. The following week he covered the 18-hole Champions Pointe layout in 71 shots as the Trojans won the Providence Regional by eight strokes ahead of Bloomington South.
“His freshman year was definitely better than what I was expecting,” Center Grove coach Jim Williams said. “His first day out of the gate he had a 29 out here (the front nine at Dye’s Walk), and that was definitely a jaw-dropper.
“Noah handled everything all season with a lot of composure.”
Then again, Gillard, who in the fall won the Kampen Junior Tournament at Purdue with a 1-over-par 145 and was third at the Hoosier Junior Championship at Otter Creek, has mastered composure.
He has been golfing competitively since the age of 5.
“I feel like if you get angry that your level of play will go down, so I try to keep a good attitude out there and just stay positive,” said Gillard, who also plays basketball at Center Grove. “At times it’s hard if things aren’t going your way, but I keep telling myself that putts will fall.”
That could be truer now than ever before.
Gillard and his instructor, Kurt Schier, the head golf professional at Southern Dunes Golf Course in Indianapolis, made it a point during the offseason for Gillard to sharpen his putting skills.
“Putting wasn’t the weakest part of my game, but it wasn’t very solid. We worked hard on it,” Gillard said. “In the fall I felt like I was playing really well.”
THE GILLARD FILE
Name: Noah Gillard
Family: Parents, Dave and Amy; brothers, Quentin, 22, and Eli, 11
Favorite Indiana golf course: Crooked Stick
Favorite golf course: Colleton River Plantation Club in Bluffton, South Carolina