Sectional title raises bar for North sophomore

When Spencer Fairbanks was making up his mind about his sport of choice, one factor drove him toward golf.

“It’s really relaxing,” said Fairbanks, a Columbus North sophomore who will be competing in the Providence Regional at Champions Pointe in Henryville today. “It’s a way to get away from everything.”

Before this past Friday, Fairbanks probably could continue to be somewhat anonymous on the golf course as a sophomore finding his way.

Then he shot 72 to win the Greensburg Sectional, and perhaps all that has changed.

“The million-dollar question is whether that gets in the way of him going out and having fun,” said his father, John Fairbanks. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

The elder Fairbanks was referring to the fact that his son now knows he can be a champion. Will expectations get in the way?

Spencer Fairbanks, who is 16, doesn’t think so. In fact, he said he entered his first sectional competition calmer than he has been all season despite the pressure that accompanies end-of-the-season events.

“I don’t know how I was calmer,” he said. “I was just trying to have fun.”

The Bull Dogs must be hoping that today’s round for Fairbanks is a big, belly laugh. If the team has any chance of qualifying for the state tournament and defending its state championship, it needs a couple players to go low.

Fairbanks, who also had his first hole-in-one May 25 on the “Alcatraz” hole at Otter Creek, has been trending in that direction.

“This year I have been more consistent,” he said of his improvement from his freshman year, when he was a reserve. “Last year I would make a 7 or an 8 and it would ruin my round. I’m not doing that this season.”

If he could come up with a winning effort today, he would become the second consecutive Fairbanks to win a regional title at Champions Pointe. His older brother, Christian Fairbanks, won the title last season and then paired with teammate Michael VanDeventer to share the state individual championship. However, Christian Fairbanks never won a sectional.

Now a member of the Indiana University golf team, the older brother got a call Friday night.

“I told him that I won the sectional,” Spencer Fairbanks said. “He told me, ‘Win a regional and a state, then come talk to me.'”

John Fairbanks said that despite the three-year age difference, his sons have been competitive in golf, basketball, tennis and even fishing since they were very young.

“We watched little brother wanting to be like big brother,” John Fairbanks said. “We’ve been blessed because they are as good off the course as they are on it. We (together with their mom Melissa) wanted to raise them in a Christian home. Both are well-grounded.”

Christian Fairbanks will be following his brother around the course today at Champions Pointe. “I enjoy watching him play the game I love,” he said.

Would he give him advice? “I would just tell him to remember that it’s just another golf tournament, to relax between shots and trust his routine,” Christian Fairbanks said. “Big tournaments and big courses can throw your off your game.”

Although both brothers were taught by their father, they have different swings. Spencer, at 6-foot-3, it a bit taller than Christian.

“I’ve made this analogy,” John Fairbanks said. “If you watched Eli and Peyton Manning, you knew that Peyton always is focused on the technical piece. Christian is very technical. Spencer is more like Eli … loose, fun-loving.

“Being that I taught them the exact same thing, you would think their swings would be the same. but Spencer’s swing is a little flatter, a little looser, a little more feel.”

Christian Fairbanks describes their difference on the course by saying, “His misses are a lot straighter. My bad shots have a lot of curve on them.”

The Fairbanks family won’t be the only ones watching Spencer Fairbanks today. Sectional champions draw attention.

“I think (the sectional title) gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “But I still am just going to try to post the best score I can.”

At a glance

Providence Regional high school boys golf

WHERE: Champions Pointe

WHEN: Today

LOCAL TEE TIMES: Jennings County’s first tee time is 8 a.m. on No. 10; Columbus North’s first tee time is 9 a.m. on No. 10; Columbus East’s first tee time is 9:20 a.m. on No. 1; Seymour’s Brady Mitchell tees off at 9 a.m. on No. 1; Seymour’s Keaton Simpson tees off at 10 a.m. on No. 1

STATE QUALIFIER: Top three teams and top five individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament