Natchez High golf team shows improvement

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NATCHEZ — Golf is a game that requires an enormous amount of patience and practice. Natchez golf coach Jerry Baldwin stresses both. He demands his golfers practice hard each day and, with patience, he believes he will see great improvement from his players, he said. After just one year at the helm he has already seen of that some growth.

“Last year, my first year as coach (at Natchez) after coming from Canton, we had 11 guys come out and none could break 100. This year we have five kids and we see a big difference,” Baldwin said. “Last year our goal was to shoot 400 as a team, this year we have already shot a 398.”

The five players that make up the Bulldog golf team are Royal “Trey” Hill, Jonathan Weir, Autry Clayton III, Roderic Lewis and Rondall Hawkins.

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The team has already competed in two tournaments so far this season and is set to play another today at Duncan Park against Cathedral and Franklin County, Baldwin said. Tee-time is at 3 p.m.

Golf is a game that also demands a lot of time and all of the players on the team have other activities that require them to be away from the golf course, Baldwin said.

“You have to hit a golf ball every day and most of our guys just play Feb. through May,” Baldwin said. “But they are getting better.”

With the limited amount of practice time, Baldwin tries to get as much out of practices as he can.

The team starts each day with a lesson from their volunteer swing coach, 11-time Natchez city champion, Pete Powell.

“I started (working with them) about three or four weeks ago,” Powell said. “I just thought they might need some help.”

“We work on stance, grip and swing path. I am definitely seeing improvements and a couple of them have really nice swings, if they played (more),” Powell said.

“I enjoy working with them and they listen pretty good, they just get frustrated sometimes.”

After swing lessons the players practice putting, then hit the driving range to work on their short game and hit some balls, Baldwin said. Then they go to the course for some situational work, in which they place a ball on the course and try to get off in three shots, Baldwin said.

The interest in the golf team has increased at Natchez High, Baldwin said, but most of the guys that want to come out and play do not want to put in the practice hours.

“We have to meet (at the beginning of the year) and tell them to come to practice. Golf is a hard game and you don’t get immediate success,” Baldwin said.

The Bulldogs have 12 scheduled tournaments this season, the final being the District Tournament at Brandon Bay Point Country Club. By that time Baldwin hopes to see some lower scores, he said.

He expects a couple of guys to be able to break 90 and a couple more to be able to break 100, he said.

“(To end the year) I would like to see if some shoot 90 they are upset, if a couple shoot 95 they are upset. It’s time, we struggled along all last year. This year they have an excellent teacher in Mr. Powell and they are having a lot of fun and are really excited,” Baldwin said.