Zach Sheehy may not have the same wealth of competitive experience like some of Northwest Indiana's best high school golfers, but the Hanover Central senior has been able to pull his own weight on the course.
Sheehy didn't start playing competitive golf until he was 14 years old, and was able to shoot an average nine-hole round of 45 as a freshman for the Wildcats.
Obviously, the game came almost naturally to Sheehy.
"I played a little bit the year before knowing I was going to play in high school -- and just getting into it," he said. "Ever since freshman year I've been playing as much as I can."
Though his game was always solid, Sheehy's hard work finally came to fruition last season, when he shot an 83 in the Lake Central Sectional at Palmira, earning the final individual qualifying spot for the LaPorte Regional.
Sheehy followed that up with an 84 at the Regional, ending what had been an invigorating season for him.
"It gave me a lot (of confidence), knowing I can hopefully carry it over and do a lot better," he said.
Along with Sheehy, fellow senior Charlie Sawyer qualified for regionals last season as a junior, and the two push each other in practice and competition.
"Every time we play together, it seems like we feed off each other really well," he said. "If he's shooting good, I'm shooting good."
Sheehy's growth as a golfer has been boosted by playing in the Northwest Indiana Junior Golf Association during the summer. His interest in the game has grown so much that he plans to enroll in the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, with hopes to become a swing coach and coach college or high school golf eventually.
Hanover Central coach Jerry Kienzle has seen Sheehy mature into a better golfer over the course of his high school career.
"His ball striking this year has improved tremendously," Kienzle said. "I think he had a great summer, which helped him out competitive-wise with the NIJGA. He's getting a little better mental attitude toward his competition."
Though advancing past sectionals individually was certainly a feather in Sheehy's cap, the Wildcats have come painfully close to advancing as a team the past two seasons. Last season, H.C. shot a 342 as a team to finish fourth behind Griffith's 339, and a 367 in 2009, seven strokes off the Panthers' 360. This season, the goal is set to break through that wall and advance.
"All we need is everybody to pick up one or two shots," Sheehy said. "It's not that hard to do. We all just have to have a good day. With the team we have, we can shoot really well."