Just a game

Laney golfer Samuel Young at the StarNews photo studio in Wilmington, N.C., Friday, June 20, 2014. (Photo by Photo by Mike Spencer)

By Chad Lindskog


Samuel Young doesn't put much pressure on himself to succeed.

After finishing second in the Mideastern Conference as a sophomore, the Laney High School golfer set his sights on winning the conference tournament this past spring. And Young met his expectations.

"I try to think it's just golf, it's not a do-or-die situation," Young said. "It's just high school golf and I try not to worry about it too much. If I hit a bad shot, I just look to the next one."

His calm demeanor not only led him to finishing first in the conference, third at regionals and 12th at state, but also to another accolade: the StarNews All-Area boys golfer of the year.

"His personality allows him to remain steady playing golf, which is very unusual for a young man that age," Laney coach Chuck Martin said. "When he's frustrated it really doesn't get him down, he keeps his head up keeps steady and he continues to get a little bit better all the time."

Part of what allows Young to remain consistent is that he volunteers at Wilmington Junior Golf Academy in his free time, where he helps children learn and refine their swinging techniques. By helping others, he said he's also teaching himself.

When Young hits a ball astray during an outing, he doesn't let his emotions affect his focus. Instead, he gathers himself on his next attempt by using the same tips he teaches others.

Competing alongside three teammates who medaled in a tournament this spring didn't affect Young's composure to be the best, either.

Playing with seniors Colby Weiner and Harrison Hepner, as well as his younger brother Jackson, a freshman, every day led to what Martin said was some friendly competition between the teammates.

"It's impressive when you have four guys that were a medalist at one time or another, so there was some competition," Martin said. "But the good thing about our team was the guys got along well."

It seems that nothing fazes the rising senior – even off the course.

"To balance school and golf at the same time was really tricky for me because I take a lot of AP classes," he said. "So it was a challenge to balance, but my parents helped me through."

Although Martin is retiring and Weiner and Hepner have graduated, Young expects to continue his excellence and direct the program back to the state tournament in 2015.

"We lose our top two guys so I think there might be a little more pressure on me next year," Young said. "I try not to put too much pressure on myself, though."

First team

Samuel Young, Junior, Laney (Player of the Year): 76 stroke average to lead Mideastern Conference; Wilmington Municipal Invitational champion; finished 12th at 4A state event.

Harrison Hepner, Senior, Laney: 2nd in Mideastern Conference stroke average; first-team all-conference selection.

Austin Inman, Senior, Wilmington Christian: 75.6 stroke average; 4th at N.C. Christian School Association state tournament to help team win state title; Liberty signee.

Landon Patterson, Sophomore, West Brunswick: Third in Mideastern Conference; 2nd at 3A East Regional; 20th overall at 3A state event.

Ross Robison, Senior, Cape Fear Academy: 73.6 stroke average, tops in Cape Fear Independent Conference; 10th at NCISAA Class 2A state tournament; UNCW signee.

Second team

Jackson Young, Laney; Jacob Tew, Wilmington Christian; Joey Funderburg, Wilmington Christian; Jacob Diab, Hoggard; Nicky Beecroft, South Brunswick; Connor Edmonds, Ashley.

Honorable mentions (from coaches' nominations)

Corey Oberto, Cape Fear Academy; Blake Taylor, Wilmington Christian; Steven Crowell, Topsail.


Mideastern Conference

Honors: Player of the Year–Sam Young, Laney. Coach of the Year–Chuck Martin, Laney. Team Sportsmanship Award–Topsail.

First Team: Sam Young, Laney; Harrison Hepner, Laney; Landon Patterson, West Brunswick; Jackson Young, Laney; Colby Weiner, Laney; Nicky Beecroft, South Brunswick; Jacob Diab, Hoggard.

Second Team: Michael Hitt, South Brunswick; Drew Boyer, West Brunswick; Sam Jarden, Hoggard; Zack Flaccavento, West Brunswick; Steven Crowell, Topsail; John Wagoner, South Brunswick; Dylan Howard, West Brunswick.

Three Rivers Conference

Honors: Player of the Year–Matthew Register, South Columbus. Coach of the Year–Willie Gore, South Columbus.

First Team: South Columbus–Matthew Register, Wesley Bryant, Andrew Register. Whiteville–Whit Butler, Anthony Anderson, Tucker Recton. Red Springs–Caleb McMillan. Fairmont–Will Andrews.

StarNews All-Area teams selected after receiving nominations from coaches at all teams in our coverage area.


Chad Lindskog: 343-2366

On Twitter: @chadlindskog