By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
To enjoy any kind of consistent success on the golf course, you have to spend a lot of time on the golf course.
Sign James Morgan up.
“James definitely has a love for the game of golf,” Southeast High School golf coach Mike Jenior said. “I think he could literally play 36 or 54 holes of golf a day and still not get bored with the game. He would be just as excited on the last hole as he was on the first hole.”
That unique drive has produced results for the Pirates’ sophomore standout.
Morgan was named First Team All-Portage Trail Conference last year as a freshman, then spent his summer traveling to a variety of different golf tournaments in a variety of different states, including the U.S. Kids World Championships in Doral, Fla., where Morgan played Pinehurst.
The event included 694 of the world’s best youth golfers from 30 different countries.
With his summer calendar filled with golf, it was like he was living on the golf course.
Which is no different than his normal life, which includes him living on a golf course.
Morgan and his family live in North Benton and the Sebring Country Club.
“I remember being like 3 or 4 years old, going down to the golf course and hitting my first set of balls,” said Morgan, whose father Josh won the Division III state championship in the 3,200 meters during his senior year at Rootstown.
Until he was 8 years old, Morgan said he spent his springs playing baseball, but as he began to golf in more tournaments — and experience success in those events — golf became one of his primary focuses, though he did run track (800 meters) last spring for the Pirates.
With all of the extra time spent on the golf course, it is no surprise that he possesses an acute awareness for his play and the play going on around him.
“He is absolutely aware of everything happening,” Jenior said. “He has always had that ability. He is a player that can tell you, shot for shot, what he did on any hole at any time. Usually, he can do that same thing with the opponents he is golfing with, too.”
Like any strong competitor, Morgan not only finds motivation in his own results, but also in how his top opposition is faring.
It has all been part of Morgan’s maturity on the course, which even he admits has taken considerable steps forward this fall in comparison to previous seasons.
“I felt like last year, when I had a bad shot or a bad hole, it would send me south mentally,” Morgan said. “This year, I feel like I am handling those situations better.”
A perfect example came in Morgan’s first tee shot last week during the Tannenhauf Invitational.
“I straight hooked it. Right off the tee, out of bounds,” said Morgan, who went on to double-bogey the hole to start his round. “That was the kind of shot that would have impacted me for half the day in the past and it probably would have cost me five or six strokes on other holes, maybe more, but I have gotten much better and controlling my emotions and letting shots go.”
Morgan finished with a score of 4-over-par (76), firing an even-par on the back nine.
Another part of growth in Morgan’s game are his drives, pushing forward from about 230 yards last year to about 260 yards this year.
Paired with a strong wedge game and improved putting, the underclassmen is growing as a player at rapid speed and his coach sees it.
“James is becoming a true leader for us. He is really coming into his own on the golf course,” Jenior said. “He plays his game, and he encourages his teammates on the course, too, and even players from other schools. His sportsmanship is top notch.”
Just like his golf game.