Swing toward tranquility profits Cats

Photos by Tegan Johnston/The Herald
Jack Bies lifted a flag out of the hole for teammate Carson Pierce to complete his putt Wednesday afternoon as Pierce (36) and Bies (39) helped guide the 18th-ranked Wildcats to a 23-stroke victory over Southridge at Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper. For more photos from the match, click here.


JASPER — Jasper golfer Jack Bies has way too much family around to start acting wild.

It takes a golf cart caravan to chauffeur the Bies’ clan around. So even if Bies wanted to get his Happy Gilmore on and throw an epic rant, he’s got to stay collected for his kin.

“A big part of it is, my girlfriend and my grandpa and my family (are here),” said Bies, whose brother Michael is a Jasper assistant coach. “I don’t want to make a fool of myself and throw clubs or anything like that because it just makes you look bad. I don’t want to be known as that type of player. ... I’ve got my brother here too watching, so that kind of ruins it all. No, I just try to realize in life there’s worse things. This is just a game. You’ve got to move on from it.”

That mentality has paid off for Bies, who, as a sophomore, is bringing a more mature approach than he had freshman year when he found early success by shooting a 75 to collect medalist distinction at the sectional. As for the even calmer approach this season, take Wednesday’s match against Southridge at Buffalo Trace for example. Bies shot a 39, second behind medalist teammate Carson Pierce (36). One aspect of the match that stood out to him the most was his bounce-back from a double bogey on the fourth hole. He followed that with two consecutive pars as part of 18th-ranked Jasper’s 157-180 triumph over Southridge.

“My attitude has changed the most” since last season, Bies said. “I mean, I never threw clubs. I’ve never been that type of player, but just recovering from bad holes, like today I had a double and I then I went par, par. Last year, I think I would’ve been upset and maybe shot worse than what I did.”

Southridge's Tristan Boerner putted as his teammate Owen Kinker, left, and Jasper's Matt Lottes watched. For more photos from the match, click here.

As Wildcat coach Steve Milligan said, the “mental approach in golf is a big thing, everything between the ears, and Jack is getting better at that.” Bies has found a tactic that helps him stay the course: “I take deep breaths, which sounds cliche, but I just do that,” Bies explained.

That’s the advice Pierce said he’d offer a young golfer like Bies who’s working his way up.

“I would just try to focus more on your mental game than anything because that’s what changed my game,” Pierce said. “Just being able to relax out there on the course and know that the most important shot is the next shot and you can’t dwell on bad shots in the past.”

Pierce reflected on his trajectory with the Cats, which will stretch beyond high school as he’ll golf for the University of Southern Indiana next season. A proper mental approach is one thing Pierce said seniors passed down to him. This season he’s trying to take on a lead role as a senior. On days the Cats don’t have an official practice, Pierce has been known to start a group text to see if anyone is interested in the driving range or playing a round.

"I’m just trying to come out here and be a leader to all the underclassmen and people coming up,” Pierce said. “I always looked up to the seniors growing up as a golfer here. I always looked up to people, tried to keep up with the best senior out there. I’m just trying to play my best and be a good leader out there to motivate the younger kids.”

As for the other Wildcats, Bryan Hagan matched Bies at 39, while Evan Wolfe carded a 43, Matt Lottes finished with a 45 and Luke Lehane deposited a 50.

Southridge posted its best team score of the season, and on the road no less — a fact that made coach Brock Matthews chuckle. Drew Dearing recorded the Southridge low score of 41. Coby Reller (43), Michael Kappner (48), Tristan Boerner (48), Brayden Wibbeler (52) and Owen Kinker (54) rounded out the Raider scores. For Dearing, the mission in his senior season is winning sectional individually after he landed a 78 and finished second last season. To take that top spot, Dearing said he’ll need to improve his putting and chipping, two things he said could’ve been better Wednesday.

After the match, Dearing spent some time on the Buffalo Trace putting green working on his short game, something that happens “every once in a while whenever I putt bad like I did today,” he said. Still, Dearing noted the importance of focusing on the big picture, too. It’s something that dawned on him when the Southridge coaches recently mentioned his improvement since his score as a freshman at the 2014 sectional, which was 30 strokes higher than last season’s sectional mark.

“He works hard. He stays after practice a lot,” Matthews said. “We’ll go play nine holes after we’re done just to work on it. We’re trying to get that mentality with the rest of the guys is what we’re doing. He does a good job of leading and showing what it takes to be a better golfer.”

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