Managing his emotions became just as important as managing a golf course this year for Elida’s Carson Harmon, and it paid off with his third trip to state.
The Bulldog senior tees off at the Division I state tournament at the Ohio State University Scarlet course today.
“He is probably the most skilled golfer I have had in my 39 years, and I have had some good ones,” Elida head coach Denny Thompson said. “I can easily say he is the hardest worker I have had. He spends hours on the game. I think for Carson this year that he has done a better job of, and we have talked to him about it for three years, is accepting responsibility for his play and his shot.
“Although it is not perfect he has accepted responsibilities for his bad shots, and it has allowed him to be better, and it really is the one thing that has held him back.”
Thompson admitted that with the help of Carson’s father, Mike, that the often had to go “good cop, bad cop” on the senior golfer to help him stay focused but the Bulldog head coach adds that he just wasn’t hearing it from him or Mike.
“He has always been good ball striker, not that it hasn’t gotten better, and he has worked on his putting so the skilled part is always there, it came down to managing his emotions and his course management on courses that present difficulties for him. Sometimes you have to accept a bogey and go on and so you have to take that smarter approach and not be too aggressive because he is an aggressive player. He has done a much better job of handling his emotions and handling his game this year and that has led to him becoming the better golfer that he is.”
It also took a little time away from the sport that helped stoke the competitive flames in Harmon who took time off in the winter. Traditionally, he plays in a winter league but this year that did not happen so he took a job at a fast food restaurant to earn some extra money but this only seemed to fuel his desire to play better.
“Coming back in, I had a fire burning for myself,” Harmon said. “I think mainly I focused on my mental game on the course right off the bat, and I could feel that improving, and I averaged better than in the years before. This summer my tournament average was 69.4.”
With that mindset, Harmon shined through the regular season and was under par for the year. Harmon was the Western Buckeye League player of the year.
He approached the season like good golfers do and that is one hole at a time and not let things out of your control bother him.
Last year, Harmon missed state when he shot an 80 at districts and that was one of the many motivations for Harmon to up his mental and golf game this season.
All the hard work paid off as he put in an impressive regular season and then began his postseason quest to make it back to Columbus. Harmon tied for for the low score at sectionals with a 74 and at districts posted a 75 to tie for the low score with three members of team champ Anthony Wayne and earn a berth in the state tournament.
“When Carson shows up everybody knows who they have to beat,” Thompson said. “He is that kind of guy. He has been a good leader too and that goes along with him accepting responsibility. It was something that needed to happen, and it finally happened. There were a couple of things that happened that made him realize this.”
One of those was missing state last year.
With two trips to state under his belt, Harmon understands the challenges that await him at state, including the Scarlet course that Harmon described as “a beast” and will need all the emotional fortitude as well as near mistake free rounds if he is going to finish in the top 10.
“Scarlet is a beast,” Harmon said. “That is the best way to look at it. I wouldn’t say it intimidates me and I think it intimidates some of the younger golfers but it just another golf course and being there before I think I have an advantage because I have played it a few times.
“I am going there to win it. Like Tiger Woods said, ‘Go big or go home.’ It is like Tiger Woods said, ‘why would you play in a golf tournament and not try to win it.’ Obviously that would be great but a top 1o would be a solid way to finish.”
Thompson added that if Harmon is on his game he can bring home a state title.
“Realistically, his goal is to be in the top 10 and that gives him all-Ohio, and I feel he is very capable of doing that,” Thompson said. “You look at scores coming into state and there are people who have shot 60s but you don’t know what course that was but there is no doubt he is a top 10 caliber golfer. Could he win it sure. If he has it going on this weekend but a lot of golfers are feeling that way to.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.