Tee shots miss the fairway and land in the woods. Approach shots find the bunker. Putts are missed.
Yes, golf can be an infuriating game. Miscues happen to the best of them. It’s how a player handles those adverse situations that can make all the difference.
That is why Jon Dwyer’s most valuable golfing tool may not be found in his golf bag. It’s his personality.
Dwyer, 16, who will be a senior at Mattituck High School this fall, has a good sense of humor and knows how to keep things light. He also understands that things don’t always go one’s way in golf. The important thing is not to dwell on mistakes, don’t get flustered and move on.
“You got to learn how to flip the page fast,” he said. “You can have one bad shot, but you never know what your next shot is going to be. It could go in the hole.”
That’s a healthy mentality for dealing with adversity. It undoubtedly helped Dwyer turn in a fine junior season for the Tuckers. He qualified and competed in the Suffolk County Tournament and became Mattituck’s first all-county golfer in at least 10 years, according to coach Paul Ellwood.
A three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and baseball, Dwyer had to manage his time well, especially this past spring when he had to juggle between baseball and the county golf tournament. He did a good job of it. In the two-day tournament at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville, Dwyer shot a 79 on the par-71 course, followed by an 88 in the second round. That left him in 32nd place.
Dwyer, who has been in Mattituck’s golf program since he was in seventh grade, battled throughout the season for the team’s No. 1 spot with his good friend, Andrew Stakey.
Dwyer, who had a 9-3 record, posted a nine-hole average of 39.30, the lowest average on the team. He twice fired 35s, his lowest scores of the season.
“Jonny had flashes of being tremendous,” said Ellwood.
Stakey, though, was only about a half-stroke behind at 39.76. Both players say the friendly competition helps each other.
“We’re getting pretty good at this crazy game,” said Stakey, who is also heading into his senior year. “One good thing about it is we can calm each other down. He almost acts as a counterweight to bring me back to neutral. I think I do the same for him.”
Dwyer said golf is his favorite sport and he wants to play in college. He said he was introduced to the game by his grandfather, Patrick Dwyer. He started playing with his first practice club when he was about 6 years old, “and I’ve loved it ever since.”
This is a busy summer for both Dwyer and Stakey. They will both play in a number of Metropolitan PGA Junior Tour events. The two of them are also working as caddies at Laurel Links Country Club in Laurel.
Stakey said playing golf with Dwyer is both fun and interesting.
“He definitely plays by his own rules,” Stakey said. “He’s not one for the fairways. Somehow it works in the end for him.”
Dwyer acknowledges that his short game makes up for some errant shots. “I will take any kind of golfer’s luck I can get,” he said.
Despite being noted for his composed, relaxed approach, Dwyer had his moment, too, this past season when he got down on himself. It was during a home match against Eastport/South Manor, and Dwyer wasn’t having his best day.
“He felt like he let the team down and that was the only time I saw him dejected and upset,” said Ellwood.
But that day aside, Dwyer manages to stay as cool as a late-afternoon summer breeze.
“It’s a frustrating sport,” he said. “I’ll have practice rounds where I just want to break my clubs, but it’s just a game. … I always try to keep my cool and try to relax. If I get a bad shot, I focus on my next one. It’s part of the game. That’s why you got to love it.”