Going into this boys golf season, Columbus North and Columbus East knew they’d have some battle-tested veterans to throw at opponents.
What the Bull Dogs and Olympians might not have expected was the emergence of a golfer who had seen little or no varsity action prior to 2013. But North junior Nick Waskom and East sophomore Chris Jurrema have been among their team’s top players this season.
“I’ve played with these guys ever since I started playing golf, so it doesn’t feel like anything unusual,” said Waskom, who will play with the top-ranked Bull Dogs today against East at Otter Creek. “These are some of the best golfers in the state, and I just feel like I’m privileged to practice and play and learn from them.”
Before this season, Waskom had played in a total of one varsity match, with that coming late last season. Jurrema didn’t play in any varsity matches as a freshman.
“I just worked a lot over the summer,” Jurrema said. “I was out here (at Otter Creek) as much as I could. I probably just got more confidence because when I was a freshman, I was kind of nervous still.”
East coach Tom LaBarbera said Jurrema has developed his confidence since last season.
Jurrema, who averaged a 45 per nine holes at the junior varsity level last year, tied for medalist in a meet with Shelbyville with a 38 at Bear Chase, and was the Olympians’ top golfer with an 84 in Saturday’s Bedford North Lawrence Invitational at Otis Park.
“I do think he worked hard over the off-season,” LaBarbera said. “I think also that he had some potential last year. I just don’t think he realized his ability. He didn’t develop the confidence in himself, so I think through the work through the summer, he started to develop confidence, he shot some better scores and he realized ‘Hey, I can do this.’ He’s just continuing to develop his confidence, and that is also improving his game at the same time.”
Jurrema is averaging 40 for nine-hole matches and 87 for 18-hole matches, both among the top three on the team.
“He has good swing mechanics,” LaBarbera said. “He’s a good player. He’s just young and pretty inexperienced, and he’s going to continue to develop his confidence.”
“I feel like I’m playing a lot better than I did last year,” Jurrema said. “I just want to medal again this year.”
Meanwhile, Waskom, who averaged 82 at the JV level last year, is second on the team with a 76 average this spring. He was the Bull Dogs’ No. 2 golfer with 75 in the Spring Preview at Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
“I had a couple bad shots, but other than that, I played well that day,” Waskom said. “I put a lot of time and work into my game over the off-season, and I think it’s paid off. I worked a lot on my irons and my putting.”
“He’s worked really hard,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “I have been impressed by how he came out and was able to contribute right away shooting very good numbers. He deserves all the credit, because it was all on him. He hasn’t played tons of summer tournaments. It’s just all been practice and effort and trying to get better.”
Waskom has cracked a lineup on a deep squad that features four holdovers from last year’s team that finished fourth in the state finals and three from the previous year’s state runner-up.
“I hesitate to say he’s a surprise, because I certainly knew he was been working at it, but how quickly he’s been able to move up and really contribute at the highest level maybe has surprised me a little bit,” Bieker said. “He’s a good ball striker, he’s a good putter and he just doesn’t do anything terrible. He’s a good player.”
Waskom is hoping to be among North’s five golfers that play in the postseason.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” Waskom said. “I don’t really feel any pressure. I don’t know if I should, but I just feel like I’m trying to help the team win. Hopefully, we can get the state title that we’ve been wanting the past two years.”