Last spring, then Cameron High School freshman Kody Whitehead missed out on a trip to the Class 2A State Tournament. Now the Cameron sophomore will get his shot at a state title.
Whitehead was the third-place medalist at the Class 2A Regional Tournament Monday afternoon at Aarowhead Resort Golf Course to earn a spot in next week's state tournament, which will take place Monday and Tuesday at Sugar Creek Canyon Golf Course near Hinton.
The Yellowjacket golfer had a pretty good feeling he was going to knock the door down to state this spring.
“I wasn't that surprised,” Whitehead said. “But I still felt a sense of excitement after I found out.”
One individual helped Whitehead improve from his freshman to sophomore season.
“This last off season I felt like I made drastic improvement,” he said. “It's largely due to my golf coach, Bill Brown, a scout at the University of Arkansas.”
Everyone connected with Cameron High School is pulling for the sophomore golfer to do well next week.
“It seems really important to teachers and faculty here,” Whitehead said. “When I came back to school Tuesday after regionals, they all wondered how I did. I never thought they would end up being that supportive, but they are.”
Not only will Whitehead be at state, so, too, will the Poteau Pirates — who will be in the Class 4A State Tournament the same days at Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner North Golf Course.
“I know that Poteau is also going to state, and I have cheered their team on ever since I left there in eighth grade, and I like to be thought of in their category because they have such a great team.”
Whitehead believes the other golfers aren't the biggest foe to contend with — it's himself and his nervousness.
“Nerves are one of the biggest issues, but my uncle, Brian Roberts, was nice enough to take off work Thursday to take me to the course where state will be played, which will take quite a bit of nerves off of me to know where hazards and out of bounds are on that course,” he said.
There was one family member very instrumental in the Cameron golfer picking up the sport.
“My uncle was always a good golfer, and him talking about his experiences at tournaments made me want to take up the game,” Whitehead said. “I first started on the spring break of my fifth-grade year, and ever since then, any free time I get is spent at the course.”
Through time, golf has become a joy for Whitehead because of all the challenges the sport presents.
“I think golf is enjoyable because you can never be a perfect golfer,” he said. “There will always be one or two shots you wish you could take back, and those are the same shots that I try to practice when I go to the practice green or the driving range. It's not like basketball (a sport he also plays for the Yellowkjackets) where the court is always the same size. No two golf courses are exactly alike, which makes this sport unique and enjoyable for me.”