DADE CITY, Fla. — Playing 18 holes on a sunny day in Florida can be tough no matter what level you are playing at.
It’s the mental aspect of the game that can be the most challenging.
Being able to deal with the elements, refocus after a bad shot, regain your composure and move on after a bad hole are all characteristics shared by those with a strong mindset.
Oakville, Ont.’s Brian Churchill-Smith of the Eastern Michigan Eagles men’s golf team put these qualities on full display at the University of South Florida Invitational the past three days.
Extreme winds caused havoc on the course and created difficult playing conditions throughout the tournament. Although Churchill-Smith finished tied for 19th at 2-over par, he felt he should have played better.
“It’s a little frustrating because I am a wind player, I hit the ball quite low and I’m good off of the tee,” Churchill-Smith said shortly after leaving the 18th hole. “All three days I didn’t get enough out of my round as felt I should have, but I didn’t make enough putts and that’s what it really comes down to.”
Churchill-Smith was not alone on the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club . He was joined by his parents Peter and Janine Churchill-Smith to provide invaluable support.
Keeping him hydrated and fed was their main focus. They believe strongly in making sure his blood-sugar levels don’t drop so his body is able to absorb the mental grind of 18 holes.
They balance the line between supportive and intrusive so their son recognizes how important their assistance is.
“My parents have really done a lot for me,” said Brian Churchill-Smith. “They got me started in the game when I was about three or four. Both my parents and brother were definitely a big influence on me and really helped me get going in the sport.”
The 2010-2011 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year has helped the Eagles to four top-10 finishes so far this year, and Eastern Michigan’s head coach Bruce Cunningham thinks his impact on the team is immense.
“He’s an elite player,” said Cunningham. “Anybody who plays in that one or two slot for any top level Division I golf team is like a hired assassin. I was proud of him today and really the whole week due to the adverse wind conditions.
“He played extremely well and competed for every shot. Under the difficult circumstances I was really proud of how he managed his game and his emotions.”