Adherence to routine keys junior’s success

From the time he began playing golf around the age of 7, Sam Jean has been all about repetition.

Every shot the Center Grove junior takes has been practiced hundreds of times, each time the exact same way. That approach has helped Jean build muscle memory, which in turn has bred an incredible consistency.

As a result, Jean has been a model of stability for a Center Grove team that’s among the favorites to win a state championship next month.

“I’d say that he is the most routine-oriented person that we have,” Trojans coach Matt Rodman said. “He has his normal repetitions that he goes through, and no matter if we’re on the course, in the middle of a tournament, practice round or on the practice green, he consistently is the one guy who is always rehearsing and doing the same routine through every shot.”

Jean had a strong postseason for Center Grove a year ago, shooting a team-best 71 at the Providence Regional and tying for 22nd individually in the state championships with a two-day total of 152.

Rodman, who also coached Jean as an eighth-grader with the middle school team, said the steady hand was evident even back then.

“Sam’s a guy you can always count on,” the coach said.

Jean notes that by practicing in such a consistent manner, he’s “just trying to get comfortable, make sure that when I step up to the ball I’m comfortable and trusting the shot that I’m going to try to put on it more than anything.”

He’s grown to trust his swing more and more each season, and it’s showing. Last summer, Jean qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur in Tennessee, advancing to the match-play portion of the event before falling in the round of 32.

The golf world has taken notice. Jean and teammate Noah Gillard were invited to play in the prestigious Scott Robertson Memorial in Virginia this past weekend — and Jean, not surprisingly, has been receiving a great deal of interest from Division I college programs.

First and foremost on his mind right now, though, is helping Center Grove win its elusive first state title; the Trojans were third last year and runner-up in 2015.

Of course, the Trojans need to make it there first. Though they’re heavily favored to advance through the sectional and regional rounds, they’re not taking anything for granted.

“We don’t want to count any chickens before they’re hatched,” Rodman said.

“It can be difficult (not to look ahead),” Jean added, “but I think it’s important to just look at one day at a time and do the best you can that day.”

Same as any other day.

Eyes on the prize

As the regular season winds down for local high school boys golfers next week, a look at the major tournaments ahead:

Date;Event;Course;Time

June 1;Johnson County tournament;The Legends;3:30 p.m.

June 5;Center Grove Sectional;Hickory Stick;8 a.m.

June 8;Providence Regional;Champions Pointe;8 a.m.

June 13-14;State Finals;Prairie View;8 a.m.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.