North Kingstown golf takes fourth in state championship
“It wasn’t disappointing,” Owen Heath, 17, said. “We won the division and we came in the top five – but we definitely would have liked to win the state championship.”
Owen, Alex Burke and Adam Southworth – all of Jamestown – have been friends since first grade. Long before they started at North Kingstown, they played golf together at the Jamestown course.
Adam, who is 16, said that the trio went to the golf course together all the time when there were in middle school. “We played every day in the summer,” added Alex, who is also 16 and grew up across from the golf course.
Last year, the Skippers were the runners-up for the state title, and with so many players from that team returning this year, they knew they should have a shot to go all the way.
“One of our goals was to come in among the top five for the state,” Alex said.
But they also knew the other teams that would be in the hunt.
“We all had an idea,” Alex said, naming Barrington, La Salle and Hendricken as top contenders. As it turned out, Barrington did win the state title. It was the school’s 23rd state championship, and its fifth in six years. The Eagles posted a two-day score of 600 (294- 306). Portsmouth (606) finished second, Bishop Hendricken (619) third. La Salle finished fifth (636), 13 shots behind North Kingstown.
One of the big challenges at the state tournament was dealing with the crush of players on the greens. “There are a lot of people,” Owen said. The tournament organizers tried to stagger the tee times to minimize the congestion.
“They spread it out enough, so everybody’s not there at once,” Owen said. But play was still slow.
“Kids really have to concentrate,” said Alex. “[Waiting] can throw you off a little. When you’re playing well, you want to stay in a good rhythm.”
Although they didn’t come in first, they do have one more chance next year to capture the state championship.
“As juniors, we set ourselves pretty high expectations, but we know we have one more shot at it,” said Alex.
This year, the three islanders led the Skippers to the Division I Southern title. Adam and Owen traded the top two spots on the roster all season. Alex was third, and that meant all three played in every tournament.
“I think it was a good year for our team,” said Owen, who shot a pair of 77s at the state championship.
“It was a fun year to be on our team. Our team was pretty close this year.”
Also, the play was challenging because the other division teams gave the Skippers a battle this year, according to Owen. “Most of them were tough.” He said that South Kingstown and Prout had improved from last year, and overall, there were only a couple of weak teams on the schedule.
Despite the team’s relative success, Owen doesn’t think he played his best golf this year. He said he has struggled with his putting. “I didn’t play that well for the matches. I didn’t have any outstanding matches. Everything didn’t come together.”
Although Owen wasn’t on his “A game” this season, he said he was pleased with his approach shots. For teammate Adam, it was just the opposite. “I putted really well but missed a lot of greens,” he said. Adam, who shot rounds of 79 and 76 at Cranston, said his short game really helped him put together a good season, including a 36 earlier this spring at Quonset. “I played pretty well this season,” he admitted. “I had a few pretty good rounds.”
Adam took up golf when he was in fourth grade. “My dad got into playing golf 10 years ago,” he said. “I asked him if I could play because I saw him playing.” His father took him along to the golf course and taught him the basics, although he didn’t have formal golf lessons until he was about 14.
Adam is the son of Glenn and Susan Southworth. He plans on a career in golf and is looking for college programs that offer concentrations in golf-related business. He would like to play collegiate golf “if the opportunity’s there.”
Alex, who only started golfing four years ago, said he couldn’t “really remember” how he learned to play. He said he just went out with friends, and picked up tips from other people.
“I had an idea of the swing and stuff,” he said.
Alex would like to play golf in college. He also plays varsity football for the Skippers.
Alex, who shot back-to-back 81s at the state championship, said he thought his best round this year was at Pinecrest, where he shot a five-over 40.
Alex is the son of Jim Burke and Laura Smith. His favorite subject is psychology, which is an elective at North Kingstown. He’s not sure yet about a career.
“I might want to go into business,” he said. Alex will look at the University of Rhode Island and some southern schools where he might have a shot at making the golf team.
Owen, the son of Steven and Mary Heath, is also looking at different colleges. His best subject is math. He would like to play basketball and golf in college.
Owen learned the game of the golf from his father. “My dad played a lot of golf when I was growing up,” he said. “And my entire family played.”