North senior seeks spot on Butler team

Spencer Fairbanks decided at the beginning of the school year that he wasn’t going to play college golf.

That mindset changed once the Columbus North senior visited Butler. He liked the school and hit it off with golf coach Bill Mattingly, so he decided he would try to qualify to be a part of the Bulldogs team next year.

“About three months ago, I was still looking for schools, and I visited Butler and fell in love with the campus and just decided that I wanted to start talking to the golf coach,” Fairbanks said.

After emailing Mattingly, the coach agreed to meet with Fairbanks. The visit lasted about two hours.

Fairbanks’ spot on the team isn’t secure, however. Butler has seven players on scholarship and will have five prospective players battling for two spots.

The qualifying would be right after school starts on Aug. 22.

Fairbanks qualified for state as an individual as a sophomore and tied for 20th in the state finals. But he had a tough time last year trying to regain the momentum he had built in 2015.

This year, Fairbanks is off to a better start. He finished second individually with a 76 in the season-opening Seymour Invitational at Shadowood.

Since then, Fairbanks has been fairly consistent — at least moreso than last year

“I am pretty confident,” Fairbanks said. “My game feels really good right now. I think I’m playing pretty well, and hopefully, I can play a lot better.”

Even if he qualifies for the Butler team, Fairbanks isn’t likely to land a scholarship his first year on campus. But he could earn scholarship for his final three years.

The only other school where Fairbanks had considered playing golf was Taylor, which had offered him a spot on the team.

Fairbanks’ older brother Christian is a junior on the Indiana University golf team. Christian was co-medalist with North teammate Michael VanDeventer, who is now at Ball State, in 2014, when they led the Bull Dogs to the state team title.

Christian Fairbanks has been through qualifying at IU and offered his brother a little advice.

“He said just have fun with it because not many people get the opportunity to even try and walk on at a school like that, on a D-I golf team,” Spencer said.

If you go

What: Columbus North at Columbus East boys golf

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Otter Creek Golf Course

Admission: Free

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.