“I want them to gain something long term. End of the game what did you grow from, what did you gain, how are you going to apply it to life to make you a better person?”
That’s what Magna Vista golf coach Scott Gardner wants his team to learn this season. From life lessons to impressive golf, the Warriors are primed for a breakout 2019. They’ve finished second in four of five Piedmont District regular season matches, and have one win last week at Tuscarora Golf Course in Danville.
Magna Vista finished second to Halifax on Tuesday at Beaver Hills Course by just two strokes. Gardner spoke with the Bulletin after the match about what he’s seen from his team so far this season, coaching his son, and his hopes for the postseason.
Bulletin: Another good tournament for your team this week. What did you see from your players?
Gardner: Our goal today was to repeat. On one side of it a little disappointed we were not able to do that, on the other side of it we still have growth and work to do and we can improve. So that’s part of what we’ll talk about this week at practice. Each person, how they can contribute? Losing by two strokes, four golfers, if every one of them just saved one stroke you just won by two. Little things like that I get them thinking and even when they think that one stroke doesn’t make a difference, it can when you come in second place by two strokes. It’s always growth.
How many golfers do you have in all this season?
SG: Two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores, and three freshmen. We’ve got a wide range of players and everybody can contribute. Today, my four scorers were one senior, one freshman, and the other two juniors.
I have 11 golfers this year. The mindset on that is you want to keep two or three per grade level so when two or three seniors graduate you’re not devastated... You want a good mix. Like I’ve got right now two of each kind that are really contributing. The freshmen are coming along. One of them helped me today, Patrick McCrickard. It’s a good mix.
What have you seen from the all overall this season?
SG: I’m pleased with them overall. We’re shooting some of our lowest scores... We’re getting where we need to be. Three of our lowest rounds have been out of the last four rounds so we’re doing well and next week we’ll do well because it’s at our home course and you typically do better on your home course so I’m looking forward to going home. The kids have knowledge, where to hit it, where to miss, where to lay up, where to go for it. Just local knowledge. It’s a huge advantage... it pays off.
Your son, Wil Gardner, is a junior on the team, and he’s consistently one of the team’s top players, with a win last week at Tuscarora. What’s it like coaching him?
SG: Where I’ve played golf with him so long, and he’s kind of followed the team and practiced with the team, even when he was in middle school, it doesn’t feel anything unusual. It’s one of those situations where you’re a teacher you can disconnect... It’s, ‘How are you playing? What do you need? How are you feeling? Is there something you want to talk about or any questions?’ It’s a disconnect. I don’t really feel as if it’s my son. Now when we get home at night I’ll say, ‘Go back through your holes’ and I’ll look at the scorecard and we’ll go back through some of the holes and he’ll explain in details. It’s nothing different.
I’ve actually taught him before in school so you learn teaching or coaching is separate than your family. And I’ve been doing it so long I’m able to do that. And I feel like all of them are my sons, and I have one daughter this year, I have one female playing this year.
It’s just a very rewarding position. I thoroughly enjoy it. Win or lose you feel like you’re contributing. I just went out to the car and told some of them, ‘Don’t hang your head low, even if you lost by two don’t hang your head low because we did play well, there is another day and you’ll get another chance.’ It’s just a build ‘em up kind of thing. That’s part of coaching is you build them up and encourage them so in the future they do well so they can be successful on the course and off the course. That’s part of it.
You finished second to Halifax this week, but beat them last week. What’s the key the rest of the season to getting to the top of the Piedmont District? What are your goals for the rest of the year?
SG: We’ll meet them again at home next week. Oak Hill is next week so we’ll talk about that for the next two or three practices, home course advantage. So my expectation of course is posting a score that’s better than the others. And it may not be Halifax, it may be someone else. But whoever it is we want to shoot lower than the rest of them.
Going forward we’ll go to the district tournament which is at Olde Mill, that’s Patrick County’s home course, and we’re looking forward to that because that’s more tournament conditions and you’re just kind of building them up. Regular season kind of gets you ready, tournament conditions build you up and it’s the next step. Then regional play is going to be going to Abingdon... when you go out of town like that you realize there’s bigger fish, and you have to compete with that. We have to get our mindset, focus on your own game, take care of your own little match. If you can beat the other two or three guys in your match then that’s going to deem success long term.
So going forward we look for the team qualifying for regionals and then from regionals if you shoot low enough you go to state. Naturally i’d love to see the team go forward from regionals to state, but if not, I feel confident that I’m going to have at least one, maybe two, that can qualify for state. And that’s our mindset, and I tell the kids that. At any time anybody can get hot. Anybody can put it together. The components are there, even our team the components are there. If we all strike at the same time, I’ve had different kids shooting in the 70s. If i can get them all shooting in the 70s on the same day then you qualify as a team... and states is in Williamsburg on October 15. That’s our long term goal. It’s been several years since I’ve been to state and I want these kids to have that experience, including the ones that live in my house. I want them to have that experience of going to state because that’s something you can never take back.
Magna Vista will play at Oak Hill golf course in Eden, North Carolina against the rest of the Piedmont District on Tuesday beginning at 2 p.m.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.