Like many accomplished high school golfers, Austin Crowder discovered success at the collegiate level is more difficult to attain.
Gone are the days of 9- and 18-hole matches close to home.
As a collegian, a golfer must adjust everything from his itinerary to his game, with tournaments occasionally lasting as long as three days.
“College golf exposes your weaknesses,” said Crowder, a sophomore at IUPUI who over the Jaguars’ fall and spring seasons ranked fourth-best on the team with an 18-hole average score of 76.8.
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“It’s all about confidence for me,” Crowder said. “It seems like for me when I’m hitting the ball well, the other parts of the game come with it.”
Crowder and Christopher Heck, his one-time Center Grove teammate, are playing virtually every day during summer break to fine-tune their game.
Heck, a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis, plays primarily at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, where his family has a membership.
Crowder practices at either Dye’s Walk Country Club or Hickory Stick Golf Club.
Different layouts and challenges.
A like purpose.
“From high school to college it’s bigger tournaments and it’s longer,” said Heck, whose 75.6 norm was fourth-best among Greyhounds golfers. “My freshman year I would have a good one or two rounds and fizzle out. You have to be competitive all three or four days.
“It’s why we all play in these Indiana golf tournaments during the summer. It’s about staying in a competitive atmosphere and working on your game.”
Crowder is coming off an up-and-down performance at the June 20 to 23 Indiana Amateur Championship at Elcona Country Club in Elkhart.
Locked in a fourth-place tie after shooting 76-72 the first two rounds, Crowder fired scores of 79 in each of the final two rounds to finish in a tie for 22nd place.
Heck failed to make the cut, going 83-82 at the outset.
In May, however, he secured a 13th-place finish at the Indianapolis Open with a 74-72—146. Heck’s 2-over-par total took place at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
It’s common for Crowder during the summer to play three or four golf balls at a time, whether it’s shots off the tee, long irons or his short game.
His father, Bob, is there more often than not as an extra set of eyes.
“Once you graduate high school it’s tough to find events to play in, which leaves you a lot of time to practice,” Crowder said. “My dad has always been my swing coach. Before a tournament we’ll go out and fine-tune things up a little bit.
“I’m a perfectionist, and the night before the State Am I’m hitting my driver everywhere.”
Meanwhile, former Franklin Community High School golfer Jacob Hash, who would like to be experiencing practice rounds and summertime tournaments, is channeling his efforts into physical therapy.
Hash had been enjoying a solid freshman season at Franklin College when a shoulder injury sustained before the Hoosier Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament (April 23 and 24) forced him to readjust his focus.
“I haven’t played all summer. I tore my labrum in my left shoulder during a practice round,” said Hash, who is scheduled to complete his physical therapy sessions in late July. “Normally I would play six or seven times a week during the summer.
“I felt like I was making strides and then this happens. You’re forced to step away. I don’t mind not practicing, but I’m not able to play in any tournaments. I hope to play again at some point this summer.”
University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s golf coach Brent Nicoson said offseason emphasis varies from player to player.
Nicoson, while praising Heck’s character, short game and ability to focus regardless of the competition or golf course, knows there are subtle tweaks that need to be made.
“Basically it’s just evaluating what happened during a player’s freshman year and making changes. What they did well. What they need to work on,” Nicoson said. “Christopher needs to make a couple swing changes and needs to pick up distance.”
A DIFFERENT COURSE LOAD
Johnson County golfers who will play for college men’s programs during the 2016-17 school year:
Jacob Hash;Franklin College;Sophomore
Jackson Williams;Franklin College;Freshman