Elida’s Carson Harmon is back at state.
Only this year he is without his brothers and without a team but that doesn’t mean both did not play an important role in his return trip to Columbus. The sophomore Bulldog will tee off at the Ohio State University Scarlet Golf Course Friday.
Harmon steps out of the shadows of his older brothers, Gavin and Ethan, who both graduated and were state qualifiers with the Elida team last year and the Spencerville squad the previous two seasons before that.
Harmon admits that it was tough not playing with his older brothers Ethan and Gavin, two standout golfers in their own right, this season.
“I think that partially contributed to competitiveness on the course because I always wanted to beat them and obviously they weren’t there so I couldn’t compete against them. I wouldn’t say it took away from my game but it took away kind of the fun of beating them.”
But the confident Harmon needs little motivation when it comes to golf as he has developed into one of the top linksters in the area and that showed by being named the Western Buckeye League golfer of the year.
“I was pretty proud of being the best on the team,” Harmon said. “It was a good accomplishment getting that (WBL player of the year).”
Even though he is a sophomore, Harmon embraced the opportunity to become the No. 1 golfer on the Elida team and worked throughout the summer to accomplish that goal.
Elida head coach Dennis Thompson said that Harmon came into the season serious about being the top golfer on the team and put in the necessary hours during the summer to achieve this goal.
“He worked very hard this summer and had his game in pretty good shape,” Thompson said. “He came through the season as the WBL player of the year. But would I say he wasn’t really satisfied with his overall performance this year. I think there was always a little something missing in his rounds and that is the sign of a good golfer when he had the type of season he had and wasn’t satisfied with that.”
Harmon said he got off to a great start this season, hit a small lull, and then came back to finish second in the WBL tournament with a 74.
Coincidentally, it was his teammate Hunter Jolliff who took medalist honors with a 73 and his fellow Bulldog also helped fueled that competitive drive left by his brothers.
“As a freshman it was really nice to have his older brothers there and he has been around it so it wasn’t totally new but that cushion of your older brothers there last year helped but I think he kind of embraced taking over the reins this year,” Thompson said. “It also helped with Hunter Jolliff playing the way he did. Those guys played a lot this winter. They worked hard and were a very good 1-2 punch in terms of getting along and helping each other. That was a real nice factor for us as a team.”
At sectionals, Jolliff shot a 75 and Harmon posted a 78 and the Bulldog team finished second with a 329 to advance to districts.
At districts, Harmon carded a 77 to finish second overall at the Findlay Country Club to make it to state. Unfortunately for Jolliff, who finished 11th, and the rest of the Bulldogs, the team ended up seventh and their season’s ended there.
“I knew it was going to be a good fight to get there but I had a hunch that if I put in the work I could get there,” Harmon said.
Harmon said one of the reasons for his success this year is improving his short game.
“I have taken responsibility to spend more time on my short game, rather than mashing my driver all day,” Harmon said. “Every time I shot a good score it was all putting.”
Thompson added that he thinks Harmon’s game is coming to a head in terms of putts and that has been an issue in the past.
“He has changed putters the last couple of weeks and the confidence is there right now so I am real excited to see how he does down there (at Columbus) already experiencing it as a freshman,” Thompson said. “He kind of knows the ropes of a little bit of how things go
Because of this Harmon said he feels even more prepared for his second go-around at state and feels more confident he can compete for a top spot.
“I am a little more mentally prepared,” Harmon said. “I’d like to finish in the top 10 but I have the goal of winning it. I have to play my best and play the game I can play.”
Because he is an individual, Thompson added that Harmon’s approach will be slightly different.
“Last year we were trying to perform the best as a team and finish the best we could so we could go into holes a little bit differently like you are going to make a bogey but that is okay because in the team aspect of it that is what I need to do where when it is just you as an individual and you are trying to make the top 10 in state all of a sudden you will make a little bit more of a gamble because there is a ton of good golfers in Division I,” Thompson said. “He is aware of all that having experienced it last year and knowing what kind of scores he has to shoot to do what he wants to do down there.”