Golfer Of The Year: Wood’s Will Holmes

Posted: November 28, 2012

WINCHESTER — James Wood junior Will Holmes’ sub-82 stroke average last year showed he had ability, and Colonels coach Al Smith’s comment earlier this year that he thought Holmes played “360 out of 365 days of the year” showed he had a strong work ethic.

But there’s nothing like the feeling of getting that first win against your peers. It makes you confident, and makes you hungry for more.

“I was a little disappointed with not actually winning things with all the practice I was putting in, but this year it started to pay off,” Holmes said. “Winning that first district mini was pretty exciting, because I had never that done that before. That was a milestone.”

Holmes captured the first Northwestern District mini tournament with a 74 that defeated the rest of the field by six strokes, and that initial mastery over the rest of the district’s golfers proved to be a sign of things to come. Though Holmes was slowed a bit because of midseason foot tendonitis, his stroke average of 78.5 for the three district mini tournaments, the Curly Licklider, the Bryan Gunter, the Skyline Invitational, and the Northwestern District and Region II tournaments was nearly four strokes better than anyone else’s within the district.

Overall, Holmes won four competitions, was named Northwestern District Golfer of the Year, forced a three-golfer playoff at the Northwestern District Tournament, and helped James Wood to its first district regular season title in three years and its first district tournament title in recent memory.

For all that, Holmes achieves another milestone — recognition as The Winchester Star Golfer of the Year. No one at James Wood has earned that distinction in seven years.

“He’s someone who’s really dedicated to the game,” Smith said. “He’s always practicing. He’s got a job at the Winchester Country Club. He plays in Junior PGA Tour events against really tough competition.

“He didn’t get flustered, and he was consistent. He really had an outstanding season.”

And because every day is golf season for Holmes, there’s no telling where his golf game will be at this time next year.

At age 7, the attention span of most children lasts about as long as it took you to reach this point in the article, but that was the age where Holmes said he first began his near-daily ritual of playing golf.

“I just loved playing,” he said. “I never really thought about burning out.”

It wouldn’t have been unreasonable for Holmes to wonder if he was going to get a little taller, though. After growing “three-to-four inches” in the past year, Holmes — now 5-8 — said he definitely noticed an improvement on his drives this high school golf season compared to last season.

That, combined with his improved short game, helped Holmes come into this season even more dangerous than in the past.

“He had an extra 20-30 yards off the tee this year, and he had more control in his approach shots,” Smith said. “That definitely helps.”

At the season-opening Curly Licklider Invitational at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, Holmes shot a 5-over 112 in the 27-hole tournament. That score was good for a tie for fifth overall and was five strokes better than any other local golfer.

Holmes followed that with his dominant performance five days later at the first district mini at Rock Harbor. At the two-day Bryan Gunter, his 158 put him in a tie for sixth and was seven shots better than the rest of the local field.

But just when Holmes seemed to be at his hottest, his second bout of foot tendonitis in two years threatened to derail his season. On Aug. 20, Holmes had to withdraw from his round after 11 holes at the third district mini held at the Winchester Country Club because of pain in his right foot.

Holmes said his foot started bothering him at the previous district mini held six days earlier, but his decision to reuse an old pair of golf shoes for the first time in a long time didn’t provide his foot with enough support. Halfway through the round the pain became particularly sharp.

Holmes was concerned, but his initial thought wasn’t on his pain.

“My main concern was letting my teammates down,” Holmes said, “because it was a big tournament against Sherando.”

The Colonels did wind up losing to the Warriors, putting Sherando in the driver’s seat to win the district regular season title after having won two of the three district minis.

Holmes said when he experienced foot tendonitis last year, it took two-to-three weeks before he felt right again. (Holmes figures the main reason why it’s happened back-to-back years is because he plays so much, and it’s likely his growth spurt didn’t help.)

But even though Smith said he felt Holmes’ foot issue might have had a slight impact on him over the rest of the season, mainly with weight transfer on his swing, no one would have guessed it by the results.

Three days after walking off the course with foot pain, Holmes fired a 38 that bested the field by five strokes in a dual at Rock Harbor with Millbrook. Six days later, on Aug. 29 in a dual with Handley at WCC, Holmes shot a 35, which bested the field by eight strokes.

“I was really surprised by that,” said Holmes of the WCC performance. “I was surprised [my foot] didn’t affect me more.”

After that Holmes zeroed in on helping James Wood win championships. In a dual match with Sherando on a windy Sept. 17 at Rock Harbor that decided the district regular season championship and an automatic Region II berth, Holmes dialed up a 1-under 35 that was six strokes better than anyone else.

Holmes then tied for first in regulation in the district tournament before finishing behind teammates Thomas Papastavrou and Roger Repasky in a playoff. James Wood took four of the top five spots.

“We had a great team and a great coach,” Holmes said.

Holmes then shot an 82 at the Region II tournament at SVGC and failed to qualify for states. Holmes said he was never able to get in a groove after starting with a poor tee shot.

Though it was disappointing, Holmes’ Region II score might turn out to be a good thing. He was hungry for a win last season, and everyone saw what happened once he finally got a taste of that. His desire to make it to states could take his game even higher.

“He’s still got his senior year left, so I think what happened at regionals is going to make him come back even stronger,” Smith said. “He’s a competitor, and he wants to be a winner.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on Twitter @WinStarSports1


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