Former Pittsfield High School All-Eagle golfer Hay den Jarck's bid to make the High Point (N.C.) University golf team as a walk-on came up one agonizing shot short of reality this past week.
Jarck rallied in the final two rounds of the 54-hole qualifier, but couldn't quite overcome a disappointing opening-round 85. The lanky 18-year-old finished third out of 16 players who were trying earn the final two spots on coach Greg Flesher's squad.
"Hayden is very disappointed, but he won't give up," said George Jarck, Hayden's father. "He's passionate about it and he knows that's he good enough."
A couple of things worked against Jarck in his bid to the make the NCAA Division I school's team including playing a course he hadn't seen in the opening round, adjusting to a new environment and a relative lack of tournament experience.
"The pressure of adjusting to the first week in college and playing a course he hadn't seen may have overwhelmed him a little that first day," George said. "The coach hadn't indicated that they were going to play that course. I played with Hayden on the other course a couple of times and he shot a 73 and 74."
While Jarck has made great strides over the past year, both at the high school level and against top-flight amateur competition, he is still a relative newcomer to pressure-packed tournament golf. His dad thinks that was evident when he shot the 85.
"He's better than an 85. I think the fact he's really only played for three years show ed," George said. "When you get to a certain level of experience you figure out a way to minimize the damage when you aren't playing your best. You have to know how to change your game plan. Sometimes it's hard for young players to adjust."
From the outside looking in, it would seem like the coach might want to keep Hayden around considering his rally (rounds of 74-76) and how close he came. But his father understand's the coach's position.
"You have to draw the line somewhere," George said. "Hayden is going to stop by the coach's office and tell him that's he disappointed and let him know that if anyone becomes ineligible or something, he's there."
Father and son aren't going to look in the rearview mirror for long.
"We're already looking for someone to work with him down there," he said. "And we are going to look for some men's open tournaments for him to play in. Hayden needs more tournament experience. He needs to be able to go out on any course on any day and be able to compete."
While his tryout didn't go as planned, George says his son is adjusting well to college life.
"He says that school is great and that he's already made a lot of friends," George said. "Other than last week, he's very happy."