Standing near the Greenbelt Golf Course clubhouse just after noon on Sunday, Lee Ann Vorndran knew she wouldn’t have to tip-toe around her home later in the day.
Her husband, Steve, and son, Matt, had just come off a couple of lousy scoring efforts, at least to their standards, in the second round of the Men’s City Golf Championship. Even so, she didn’t expect them to be irritable.
“They have fun,” she said. “They laugh at their mistakes.”
That’s a good thing, since their rounds on Sunday were of the belly laugh variety.
Steve, who for the past four years has coached the Northside Middle School golf team, shot 80 after missing a short birdie put on his 18th hole.
Matt, who is 14, had a miserable putting day and finished with a 94. Both were long gone from the leaderboard.
Even so, the priorities for the Vorndrans are aimed in a different direction these days.
Matt, who will be a freshman at Columbus Signature Academy next semester, wants to compete for a starting varsity berth on Columbus North’s golf team next spring. Considering the Bull Dogs are a perennial state power and that they have three of five starters returning from last season’s state runner-up team, that’s a tall order.
Although Matt isn’t a golfing phenom, he certainly has served notice that he could become an impact player at the high school level in a hurry. He averaged just over 40 during his matches for Northside and he consistently drives the ball 250 yards.
At 6-foot-tall, he figures to add another inch or two in height along with filling out his frame.
Competing in the Men’s City Golf Championship for Matt was more a measuring devise that once applied was expected to leave him feeling somewhat humbled.
He probably was, too, after Jake Coffey shot 67 at Harrison Lake to take the two-round lead at 143. Coffey just graduated after starring for North’s golf team.
The other senior on that team, Ian Smith, shot 71 at Greenbelt and was tied for second at 146 with seven-time Harrison Lake club champ Jim Turner and former city champ Matt Herron.
It’s obvious that Matt has some ground to make up in the future.
“Playing in this tournament probably helps me to focus more, to know that I need to try to improve my game,” Matt said. “I probably need to work harder to get better.”
Matt has been getting that message ever since his dad started to take him around Harrison Lake Country Club when he turned 6 years old.
“I didn’t push him to play golf when he is not in the mood,” Steve said of his youngest child. “I tried to teach him to play football, but it just didn’t stick. And basketball, he just didn’t have that much fun. He likes to fish, to hunt, to swim and to play golf.”
Lee Ann knows that golf is at the top of the list for her son, even more so than it was for her daughters, 24-year-old Alaina and 22-year-old Alexandra. They both played four years of varsity golf for the North girls team with Alaina qualifying for the state meet twice and Alexandra three times.
Alaina and Alexandra enjoyed playing the game, and they didn’t mind their dad showing them the ropes. But they, perhaps, didn’t embrace the instruction the way Matt has done.
“Our daughters didn’t want to take their dad so seriously,” Lee Ann said. “But Matthew just loves golf.”
Steve knows that being a dad and a coach can be a tough dual role to master. And yet, both father and son say they believe golf has built an even stronger relationship between them.
“It’s something we get to do together,” Steve said. “And now, we can play in tournaments together and be competitive. If we are playing other fathers and sons, the sons usually are four or five years older than Matt, but we’re still competitive.”
Matt finally is competitive with his dad. He beat his dad for the first time last September at Harrison Lake.
“I shot 75,” said Matt, who recorded his lowest round ever.
And what did dad shoot?
“It was a 78 or 79,” Steve said.
“You shot 77,” Matt countered.
Steve laughed and looked at his son. “He would be able to tell you,” Steve said. “He lets me know, ‘I’m ahead of you by a stroke.’”
As Matt continues to develop, the older Vorndran knows his days of beating his son will be long gone.
“Matt is going to work harder in high school,” Steve said. “The more I play now, doesn’t mean the better I will play.”
He is OK with offering his son support from the sideline, and Matt wants him to remain active in teaching him.
“He’s pretty much taught me everything,” Matt said of his dad. “We have the same swing.”
Certainly, Matt will have to gain some driving distance to compete with the state’s top high school golfers, but he said he wants to be able to make better decisions on a course, like his dad.
“I need to think my way around the course better than I do now,” Matt said. “On
No. 6 today, I hit a driver instead of a 5 wood. I hit it into the hazard.”
Dad hit a hybrid club on that same hole. It was the right choice, but the wrong result.
“I hit it into the hazard twice,” Steve said.
They looked at each other ... and laughed.