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When Kyle Jury has had setbacks or failure, it has always served a purpose. Jury uses such moments in his life as motivation, driving him to become a better golfer.
Jury, an Elizabethtown senior, had one of those moments last season. Unfortunately for him, it came at a time where he could ill afford it — the Boys’ 5th Region Golf Tournament. He carded a disappointing 81, his worst region-tournament score in a since he was an eighth-grader. What was worse, the Panthers finished fourth. It was only the second time the Panthers failed to qualify for the state tournament since 2004, when they finished fourth at region.
For the first time in his high school career, Jury didn’t finish the season by playing the first week of October at State at Bowling Green Country Club.
“It was extremely disappointing at first,” Jury said. “After about a week and a half or two weeks, I started working again. I buckled down and knew this is what I’ve got to do to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.”
When he talks about not allowing it to happen again, Jury speaks from past pain. He tried out for the high school team as a sixth-grader, but Elizabethtown coach Andy Games, who was in his first season as coach, decided to cut Jury.
Games, who had a team stacked with veterans, vividly remembers the conversation he had with Jury at Pine Valley behind the par-3 ninth hole.
“Devastated,” Games said of how Jury felt. “I knew he had potential, but I told him, ‘I don’t have room for you this year. I told him to come back next year.’ It broke his heart. But it was probably good for him because he worked hard and came back the next year even better.”
Fueled by the disappointment of not making the team, Jury spent countless time working on his game. He played on the summer tours, and when he wasn’t playing in tournaments, he hit ball after ball and putt after putt.
Jury made the team as a seventh-grader and worked his way into the starting five the following season. The Panthers finished second in the region in 2010 to qualify for the state tournament in part because Jury shot an 81, the team’s second-best score, In his State debut, he had an 88 as Elizabethtown missed the cut.
In 2011, the Panthers didn’t qualify as a team, but Jury shot a 77 to grab one of the three individual spots for State. He carded back-to-back 78s at Bowling Green Country Club to tie for 23rd.
Jury helped the Panthers to the 2012 region title with a 77 at Lindsey Golf Course. He played brilliantly the first day of the state tournament, shooting an even-par 72, and followed it up with an 80 to finish tied for 12th.
That’s why last season was so uncharacteristic for Jury, who had an 81 at South Park Country Club in Louisville. But he quickly turned his frustration and disappointment into motivation, realizing he needed to correct flaws in his game.
“Hitting fairways killed me in the region tournament,” Jury said. “I needed to hit fairways that day in region and I couldn’t. Driver, three wood, hybrid, everything wasn’t working. It’s so much better when you can hit fairways. I’m hitting 10 or 12 fairways a round now. That’s a huge advantage when you’re hitting from fairways than the rough into greens.”
Games said Jury has always had the ability to score well, going back to his younger days before he hit a growth spurt.
“He’s always had the ability to get the ball in the hole,” Games said. “I think when he was younger he didn’t hit the ball as far so he always had to get up and down. He had to dig deep to make a par. That’s stayed with him as he’s gotten older. He’s a lot longer off the tee now, but he still has that knack for getting the ball in the hole.”
Not making the state tournament last season also forced Jury to change his mental approach to the game.
“I’ve been more focused during practice,” Jury said. “I’ve set goals for myself when I hitting balls or putting. I’m not just on the course hitting balls, but there’s a purpose to it. I’ve completely changed my practice mentality.”
Jury opened the season with a 73 at the Bullitt East Invitational, but then he began to struggle. Three of his next four 18-hole scores were above 80. Games said Jury was putting too much pressure on himself to attract attention from colleges as well as make up for last season.
“I think he was pressing,” Games said. “It’s his senior year, he wants to do well and he has college on top of that. That’s a lot to deal with for an 18-year-old kid. I told him, ‘He needed to relax. College is going to work itself out.’ He’s going to get an opportunity to play in college. He struggled, but he’s played really good the last three weeks. I think he’s settled in and just started playing golf.”
It has been evident in his rounds since Games and Jury talked. He had a 2-over 38 the first day of the Hardin County Cup at Lincoln Trail Country Club. Jury fired a one-over 73 in the Kentucky Invitational Tournament at Nevel Meade Golf Course and then shot a 2-over 73 at Kearney Hill Golf Links.
The Panthers didn’t play in a tournament over the weekend, but will play four straight weekends leading up to the region tournament at Elizabethtown Country Club.
Although the region tournament is still 29 days away, it can’t get here soon enough for Jury, who is out to erase the painful memory of last season.
“Definitely, that’s the only thing on the agenda: getting back to the state tournament,” Jury said. “We have a good chance to win it as a team since it’s on our home course. My goal is to be more consistent. I had one bad day last year and it cost me the state tournament. I don’t want to let that happen again.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at 270-505-1759 or email@example.com.
BOYS’ AREA SCORING AVERAGE LEADERS
The boys’ area 18-hole scoring average leaders entering today (minimum 36 holes played, includes all rounds — including weekday nine-hole matches — submitted to The News-Enterprise):
Rank-Player (Team) 18-Hole Average
1. Spencer Hackert, MC 71.50
2. Cameron Dawson, LC 74.00
3. Michael Reed, CH 74.92
4. Kyle Jury, E 77.47
5. Matt Finn, CH 79.33
6. Garrett Valentine, E 79.56
7. Javen Thomas, E 80.15
8. Parker Haynes, E 80.27
9. Spencer Jury, E 81.23
10. Johnathon Willis, NH 81.56
11. Colin Crump, MC 83.00
12. Nick Banks, E 83.38
13. Zach Sorenson, CH 86.00
14. Alex Pearl, CH 86.15
15. Cameron Lasley, LC 87.10
16. Christian Ramirez, CH 87.45
17. Garrett Ammons, MC 87.50
18. Taylor Eastridge, LC 89.67
19. Hunter McLaughlin, LC 90.00
20. Garrett Ashlock, CH 91.60
21. Evan Newton, CH 94.50
22. Aaron Hashemi, CH 94.75
23. Jackson Kinney, CH 95.71
24. Jacob Gentry, LC 96.89
25. Austin Montgomery, CH 97.00
25. Caleb Buchanan, JH 97.00
27. Michael Reese, CH 97.20
28. Ryan Strange, CH 101.50
29. Keaton Puckett, LC 104.00
30. Brock Brashear, JH 105.00
31. Ethan Jayne, CH 105.00
32. Joey Shepherd, NH 105.43
33. Clay Rogers, LC 106.00
34. Charlie Vowels, NH 108.00
35. Cole Logsdon, NH 109.11
36. Jadon Cox, JH 111.67
37. David Brown, NH 114.50
38. Jordan Hickey, JH 118.00
39. Adam Full, NH 123.43