For the love of the game

Most 14-year-old kids would agree that spending the majority of their day in the hot sun carrying a heavy bag on one of their shoulders does not seem ideal.

For Kody Reynolds, it’s what’s inside the bag that allows those type of days to be perfect.

Reynolds, an 8th-grade student at Northside Middle School, spends countless hours at Otter Creek Golf Course playing the game he loves most — and for good reason.

This past school year, Reynolds was named the 7th-grade boys golf team’s Most Valuable Player. Of the seven events the team competed in on the year, Reynolds finished in first place in four of them. He was runner up in the three remaining tournaments.

“At an early age, it was pretty evident that he had a natural talent for the game of golf,” Jesse Reynolds, Kody’s father, said.

An avid fan and player of the game, Jesse would bring Kody along to Otter Creek during the summers. A baseball player growing up, Kody slowly began to fall for the game of golf through those trips to the course with his father.

“He influenced me in a positive way,” Kody said of his dad. “He would let me swing clubs and hit balls at a young age, which led to me wanting to play more.”

Around the age of 11, Kody began to play more consistently with his father and also started taking lessons from Otter Creek’s director of instruction, Jeff Smith.

“From the beginning, Kody worked really hard to keep improving his game,” Smith said. “At this early of an age, Kody is very driven and understands that you must put forth the effort to continue to improve.”

With his game improving dramatically during the course of three years, Kody began competing in the Indiana Junior Golf program. Their tournaments take place all across the state throughout the summer and often include up to 25 players in each age group.

Last summer, Reynolds competed in three tournaments in the 13 to 14 age group, with his best finish being fifth place. This year, he has found much more success, including four top-six finishes — and his first tournament win at Pebble Brook Golf Course in Noblesville on July 20.

Shooting a 72 on the par-70 course, Reynolds had a little extra incentive to pull off a victory.

“I told him if he were to win a tournament before the summer was over, I would buy him an all-new iron set,” his father confessed.

Competing in and playing well in tournaments throughout the summer gives an added confidence boost to a young player like Reynolds.

“Competing against other kids from across the state and Midwest is very helpful in developing confidence in a young golfer, which is a skill in its own right,” Smith claimed.

Even with the boost in confidence, Reynolds is well aware he still has room for improvement in his game.

Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing 155 pounds, the physical tools are already established for Reynolds. Moving forward, he understands he must grow mentally as a player to elevate his game to the next level.

“If I hit a bad shot, I sometimes can let it affect me mentally,” Reynolds admitted. “I tend to then rush my shots, or don’t read them well enough.”

Developing a stronger mental game takes much time and practice. (Just ask Jordan Spieth after his final round at Augusta this past spring.) At 14, Reynolds still has plenty of time to improve in that aspect of his golf game.

Looking toward the future, Kody’s goals for the game of golf are on par with those of most young kids who love a sport.

“A scholarship for school playing somewhere where it’s pretty hot,” he said, “and then work my way to the PGA Tour. I’d like to be able to spread the money I win around to my family.”