By Ryan O’Leary | Daily Journal
Golf is, by nature, a game of failure — and adaptation.
Everyone is going to hit imperfect shots. Miss a fairway. Find a bunker. The best players are the ones who can most consistently get themselves out of bad situations rather than compound them by getting upset and hitting another bad shot.
Now in her senior season at Center Grove, Sage Parsetich is much closer to becoming the player she wants to be.
“It’s definitely a mental game,” she said. “This summer, I was focusing on one shot at a time and not worrying about if I had a bad shot or a bad hole. I would just think, ‘I can’t change it,’ and I’ll keep on going and not worry about it.”
That mentality has, not surprisingly, led to more consistency. Parsetich, who led the third-ranked Trojans with an 18-hole scoring average of 76.25 during the regular season, hasn’t carded a score higher than 80 all fall.
Center Grove coach Cale Hoover, who encourages his players to follow a simple philosophy — hit the best shot you can, then go find your ball and try to do the same thing again — has been impressed the growth he’s seen from Parsetich in her third season as a varsity starter.
“Her rounds where maybe she hasn’t played as well, she’s hanging on to solid scores,” he said. “Maybe a 76 or a 77; we’re not seeing those things that have happened in the past. It’s probably the biggest compliment I could give her — she has a much more mature game than she had in past years.”
That maturity doesn’t always come naturally, especially for high-level players who can often expect perfection. But putting that kind of pressure on oneself often becomes counterproductive, as the anger or frustration from one wayward shot can boil over and lead to more of them.
When that happens, scores can quickly balloon out of control. Sometimes, it’s just for one hole; but sometimes it boils over into subsequent holes and can ruin an entire round.
“So many kids put too much expectation on themselves; they want this to be perfect,” Hoover said. “You’ve got to be a little carefree and let some of this stuff roll off of your back, because the greatest rounds that have ever been played are not perfect. … You watch professional golfers win majors on Sunday, they get themselves out of some situations almost all the time on the journey there. Our kids don’t think about that.”
Parsetich readily admits that finding a more zen-like mental state has taken some time.
“It was difficult,” She said. “It doesn’t happen overnight; you definitely have to practice it, practice that mental game and that mentality of, ‘it’s just one round, just one shot, and it’s not the end of the world.’ You’ve just got to keep on going.”
“She’s more comfortable in her own skin and certainly more confident, and so her play has been very, very steady all year,” Hoover added.
That approach should pay dividends for the Trojans in the postseason. Theirs begins this morning with the Center Grove Sectional at Hickory Stick — a course where Parsetich shot a career-best 69 earlier this season.
Center Grove has won just one regional championship (2012), and its best state finish was a third-place showing in 2000. Hoover believes his team, which has four starters back from a squad that came in eighth at state a year ago, has the ability to match or surpass those achievements if it plays up to its capabilities.
“This group has all of the talent it needs on the golf end of things,” Hoover said. “It’s going to be managing our emotions, managing our expectations. If we can do those things, we have a chance to bring home some serious hardware.”
Leading the charge will be Parsetich, who is ordinarily on the quiet side but has made an effort to become more of a vocal leader on and off the course.
“I’ve tried to become more of a leader this year,” she said. “I’m not very outspoken, so to just get out of my comfort zone and feel like I am becoming more of a leader, trying to have my team come together and be the best we can be.”
That best could take the Trojans a long, long way.
IF YOU GO
Center Grove Sectional
At Hickory Stick GC
When: 10 a.m.
Teams participating: Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian, Whiteland, Beech Grove, Franklin Central, Perry Meridian, Roncalli, Southport
Bloomington North Sectional
At Cascades GC
When: 8:30 a.m.
Teams participating: Edinburgh, Indian Creek, Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Brown County, Columbus East, Columbus North, Edgewood, Martinsville, Owen Valley
Admission: Free at all sites
Advancement: Top three teams and next three lowest individual scores from each sectional will advance to Saturday’s Franklin Regional at The Legends.