Links to the past

The latest Aberdeen sports star in his family, Patrick Hinch makes a name for himself in golf.

From The Cover

September 21, 2005|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,special to the sun

Patrick Hinch is well aware of his family's legacy in athletics at Aberdeen High School.

During the mid-to-late 1970s, his father, Steward, and uncles, Pat and Robert, all played on the varsity baseball team with Cal Ripken. His aunt, Carol, was an All-American in field hockey and a strong softball player.

But Hinch went in a bit of a different direction. Although he also plays baseball, golf has become his favorite sport.

He has developed into one of the state's best golfers. A senior, he won the Class 2A-1A state title as a sophomore and finished in the top 10 his other two seasons.

"I can control everything in golf," Hinch said. "It's individual. If I play bad or good I can't blame anybody besides myself."

Last season, he tied for fifth in the state after taking third in Harford County and winning the District VII title. Hinch was trying to win a second straight state crown, but City's Wilbert Lynn pulled off the surprise win with a late rally on the back nine.

This season, Hinch has set his sights on winning the country, district and state championships. He came close to completing the sweep during his sophomore year when he won the state crown after tying for second in the county and taking second in the District.

"I just have to stay focused in all three of those and not get sidetracked," he said. "I like playing in those tournaments, I like the pressure."

Hinch has made his presence known on the baseball diamond as well. Hinch played second base and finished last season batting around .400 after making the varsity team halfway through his sophomore year and starting at both shortstop and third base.

But when baseball season ends, Hinch plays golf all summer. The sport grabbed hold of him quickly and never let go.

Hinch started playing golf at the age of 3 or 4 when his parents took him with them as they hit the links. When his mother or father got close to the green, he'd chip and putt. Hinch then joined a youth golf program when he was 6 and everything took off from there.

He has continued his family's tradition of success, although he said he concerns himself only with his accomplishments.

"[There's] a little bit of pressure on me," Hinch said. "Sometimes I feel like I have to win, but my mom tells me that's not important."

"I do think sometimes that he tries to live up to the Hinch name," said Shirl Forbes, his mother. "But I don't think that he lets it get in the way. His personality is so laid-back that I don't think he puts undue pressure on himself."

Patrick's uncle, Robert Hinch, said that the family didn't play golf much when he growing up in the 70s because it wasn't the "cool" sport to do, but that Patrick's grandfather was a scratch golfer.

Robert Hinch, who lives in Colorado and has become an avid golfer, added that he was proud of his nephew because he made his mark in his own way.

"That's the only way to do it," he said. "He's probably heard stories of what we've done, but I think it's great that he's doing what he's doing. Hey, I wish I was as good as him."

Aberdeen coach Kevin Blythe said that Hinch is the ultimate team player.

Blythe said Hinch, in his third season as Aberdeen's captain, unselfishly spends time teaching less-experienced players the game. Hinch quietly works with them on drills, evaluates what they need to improve upon and then helps them get better.

"Here's a kid who shoots even par 90 percent of the time playing with kids who are just starting out," Blythe said. "And he has the patience to do that. You see so many kids who get so upset because they have to play behind kids who haven't played before. But Pat just looked at it as `I'll help them ... and work with them.' "

There's no question about Hinch's commitment to the sport. He loves golf so much that he would regularly head to the driving range to work on his swing after baseball practice last spring.

Ted Sheftic, who has coached Hinch for the past three years, said that his pupil's work continues to pay off. Sheftic also said that Hinch's confidence in his abilities is crucial to his success.

"It's all about confidence." Sheftic said. "That's an attribute that a lot of kids don't have. I think he's got some great, great college years ahead of him."

Hinch does want to play golf in college, and maybe beyond, but for now, he's just worried about making his own stories for Aberdeen fans to talk about in the coming years.

"I know they did all of those things," Hinch said of his family. "I've heard stories. But I just wanted to do something myself."

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