There’s little doubt fifth-year head coach Steve Wren has Pleasant Grove’s golf programs headed in the right direction. That means this week the Hawks are headed south—to Austin.
Pleasant Grove looks to capture the Class 3A state team title Thursday and Friday at the Roy Kizer Golf Course, and Wren knows the mental game will play as big a part in the Hawks’ success as the physical aspects.
“We’re very excited. The kids believe what they are capable of doing, and it’s been a process,” Wren said. “We’ve played eight tournaments before district, and we placed first, second or third in seven. They have confidence from playing the way they have all year. We just have to keep that same mindset in Austin.”
The Hawks broke 300 for the first time under Wren at the District 16-3A meet when they shot 299. At regionals PG again had to shoot under 300, posting a 298 in the final round to claim the championship by a single stroke over Prosper.
“We’re just not happy with going there; we’re going down with a purpose,” Wren said. “All year we’ve stopped and looked at the state championship banners in the gym, and that’s been our goal. You have to get some good bounces and be on for two good rounds in order to win.”
Trumann Nugent is the only senior for PG. Sean Romero, Curt King, Logan Byrd and Josh Cole are juniors, and Jacob Rochelle a freshman. Rochelle, the alternate, has been in the starting five for the Hawks most of the season but lost a playoff with King for the final spot before regionals.
“Sean is obviously a Division I player and is committed to New Mexico, verbally,” Wren said. “He is a complete all-around player. He averages 72 and can go low when he’s on. Jacob has been a pleasant surprise. He’s shot in the low 70s a few times this spring and has helped us get to this point.”
Wren sees different attributes in each of his team members.
“Trumann has a great short game, great work habits, and loves to play,” Wren added. “Logan is the type of kid that just wills his way to get the ball in the hole. He is a fighter.
“Curt has great confidence, likes the pressure being on him and enjoys thriving in that scenario. Josh is a great ball striker. I have never seen a kid in high school strike the ball as far as he does with tremendous lag.”
Wren attributes many people associated with the program for his team’s success.
“Us getting to this point has been a community effort,” Wren said. “The Texarkana courses allow us to come on and share the course with the public. The golf pros and managers help us tremendously, whether they realize it or not, And the parents take these kids to get lessons and are there to support us. Plus, we’ve held a parent-child tournament for the last five years, and we have some kids who came from that tournament.”
All the preparation the Hawks have undergone will be tested this week under pro-tournament-like conditions, according to the coach.
“Positive self-talk is so important when you are on the course, struggling or hit a bad shot,” Wren said. “I have used what I learned with the golf teams at Centenary and the University of Arkansas about preparing yourself mentally. These kids are ready physically, and I have tried to get them ready mentally. We have to handle all the distractions, and that’s harder to do in that environment.
“If we have the mindset of expecting to win the close ones, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
— Josh Richert