Long leads Owls' attack on par Golf: Senior has pared 2 strokes from his game a year and leads a Westminster team that is 10-0 this fall.

September 29, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The summer months are the best for Westminster senior Chris Long because that's when he can spend the most time on the golf course.

A typical Monday: He wakes up around 10 o'clock, plays a round of 18 at Wakefield Valley and then sticks around for work, washing carts along with some other chores at the club.

As for most summer Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and sometimes Fridays: See Monday's schedule.

"It's fun -- never gets old. Summertime at the golf course -- I practically live there," he said.

The fall hasn't been bad for Long and his Westminster teammates, either. The Owls are 10-0 and off to their best start since co-coaches Guy Stull and Jeff Ibex took over the team six years ago.

The team's strength -- consistency -- is also Long's forte. His nine-hole average is under 39 this season, and he's medaled in six of the Owls' 10 matches.

"Chris has been with us four years, starting some matches as a freshman, and his game has consistently gotten better with each year. This year, he's been the most consistent golfer we've had in the six years Jeff and I have coached," Stull said. "He's a senior and knows he has to be a leader. He really devoted his summer to this golf season, and it shows."

As is the case with many other beginning golfers, the game didn't come easy for Long, who was 12 when his grandfather first took him out on the golf course. Despite the frustrations -- he threw a club or two -- he still had fun.

"My grandfather taught me everything. I was horrible back then, but he had the patience to stick with me, and I liked going out and playing," Long said. "I got lectures from my parents and grandfather [about throwing the clubs] and learned a good golfer has to get the mental side down.

"Now, when I have a bad hole, I try [to] come back with a good one. You can't let it get to you."

Long said he turned the corner his freshman year, shooting in the mid-40s, and he's since knocked off two strokes each year. At 6 feet tall, 145 pounds, he can drive a ball an average of 250 yards. But Stull said improved play around the green has been key in cutting down the strokes.

"For most kids, the short game is the toughest to perfect. You can do well to reach the green with a long drive, but three- and four-putting takes that away," Stull said. "Chris never had any problems getting it there and has improved a lot on his short game."

High school golf is catching on across the state and particularly in the county, where four of the five public schools have teams.

Still, most of Long's toughest competition this season has come from his teammates.

Fellow senior Zach Taylor and sophomore Wade Shaw shared medal honors in Thursday's tri-match win against Waynesboro and Greencastle. Other teammates include junior Ryan Angell, freshman Brett Whitson and sophomore Trey Buckingham.

Thursday's win was the Owls' fourth in four days and there's no practice on Fridays.

Any guesses on what Long was planning to do Friday after school? He said golf was the most likely option. Not surprising.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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