Last season was a breakout year for Oak Hill golfer Jack Hayes.
A runner-up finish in the hotly contested regional tournament qualified Hayes for his first-ever appearance at the state golf tournament on the Speidel Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.
Now Hayes wants to go back to Wheeling and take a few friends with him.
“That would mean a lot to me and I know we can do it. I have always wanted my teammates to make it to states with me,” Hayes said. “Hopefully this year we can do that. I hope I can shoot something really low at regionals to give us a cushion, but it will take some really good golf to make it as a team.”
While some may scoff at the possibility of Oak Hill making the big dance as a team, the same people likely had doubts that Hayes would make it to states last year. Especially since COVID restrictions in Fayette County made it tough to play matches.
“We only had two or three matches at Bridgehaven, so I was just practicing every single day. I was ready to play other courses and we finally got the green light for regionals,” Hayes said.
Making things tougher for Hayes was the fact that the regional tournament was played at the Lewisburg Elks Club.
“I had only played that course once earlier in the summer with one of my friends. I remember playing terribly that day, so I was kinda surprised how I played. I didn’t have a lot of expectations, but I knew I had to play really well. Once I knew I was in, I was really excited and ready to compete against the other players in the state.”
Golf was not the first sport to come along for Hayes and it’s currently not the only sport he plays. Hayes is also an all-state soccer player.
The only catch is, high school golf and soccer are contested in the same months in West Virginia.
“I have been playing soccer almost my whole life, since I was like three or four,” Hayes said. “It’s hard sometimes. I normally have two or three practices a day. It’s tough on the old feet for sure.”
It was not until Hayes was heading into his freshman year of high school that golf became a priority along with soccer.
“As a child I would go out with my grandpa and play maybe two or three times a year. Then going into my freshman year, I really started picking it up,” Hayes said. “I played several times per week. After my freshman year I really began to work harder and played as much as I could. I was practicing at home and anytime I could get out to the course, I was out there.”
“Jack is a natural athlete and he has four colleges looking at him right now,” Red Devils’ head golf coach, Matt Sydnor said. “Having that one state tournament under his belt has really boosted his confidence. Playing outside of his home course on the Callaway Tour has really helped him too.”
Sydnor also shares Hayes’ optimism when it comes to his team qualifying for the state tournament.
“I am excited this year because of the two seniors I have back, Jack and Zane (Wolfe),” Sydnor said. “Jack finished runner-up in the Callaway Tour championship on the Meadows Course at The Greenbrier. Zane has been playing well all summer too. This is only Zane’s second year playing high school golf and he is already shooting in the 70’s.”
Golf matches however consist of four players per team with the three best scores counted towards the team total. Sydnor feels he has two other solid players in junior Bethany Rosiek and sophomore Ian Maynor to compliment his talented seniors.
Rosiek will also pull double duty playing on the Oak HIll girl’s soccer team.
“I really think we can do it. We will rely heavily on the two seniors. I have let them know that, but we finally have a veteran team,” Sydnor said. “Last year we finished fourth, but Berry Hills Country Club (site of this year’s regional tournament) is an extremely tough course and anybody can win it.”
Seeing the Speidel Course for the first time is never easy for any player and neither was it for Hayes.
“The course was really tough and it kinda caught me off guard almost,” Hayes admitted. “I am very anxious to get back up there because I know I am better than what I shot up there. I just want to go back and give it my all and hopefully win.”