E.A. Sports Today

No driver required

Weaver’s Ledbetter scraps the big stick, shoots 74 to advance to the Class 3A state tournament for the second year in a row

By East Alabama Sports Today

FAIRHOPE – Nick Ledbetter knew it was going to be a different kind of round as soon as he got in the parking lot.

He’d been contemplating the move since the Weaver golf team got the Rock Creek Golf Club for the Clss 3A South substate, but he went ahead and pulled the trigger before hitting the practice tee.

He told his father to put the driver he loves to hit in the trunk. It’s the first time he can remember ever playing a round – especially a round as important as Monday’s – without the big stick.

But as it turned out he didn’t really need it. He got around the course in 2-over-par 74 and qualified for the Class 3A state tournament for the second year in a row. He posted the third best round of the tournament.

“It was a very tough course,” the Weaver junior said. “I took my driver out of the golf bag and put it in my trunk this morning. First time I’ve ever done it, but none of the holes really called for driver.”

He’d already added a 2-iron to the bag and replaced his driver with a hybrid.

He only yearned for the driver once. Standing on 11, a straightaway par-5, he told his playing partners he missed his driver there, but not really. “Because,” he said, “I know if I had it, I’d hit it as hard as I could and end up in the trees.”

The discipline to put the driver away marks a big move on the maturity meter for the Calhoun County runner-up. 

“My mental game has come a long way knowing I don’t have to rip the driver on every hole and get as close to the green as I can,” he said.

That mental game was put to the test Monday. He was 2-over after hitting a 8-iron on 6 for the second of back-to-back bogeys, then made three straight birdies to turn in 1-under.

The round started backing up on the back and didn’t look good when he chucked one out of the fairway bunker on 14 that left him 66 yards from the green. But he holed the next shot, a 58-degree wedge, for a birdie and things were right again.

“It just shows you the next shot can go in the hole,” he said.

The state tournament is next Monday and Tuesday at Hampton Cove outside of Huntsville. Whether he scraps the driver again remains to be seen.

“Hampton Cove from the orange (tees) is not very short, but it might need a few drivers,’ Ledbetter said. “We’ll see.”

Well, at least he knows he can play without it.

Last year in the state tournament at Magnolia Grove he shot 88 (41 on the back) but didn’t get a second round because Day 2 was washed out.

“I said long before he qualified last year the first day of your first year of the state tournament is probably going to be rough because you worked all year to get there and when you get there it’s totally different than what you’re used to,” Weaver coach Justin Brown said. “We’ve been there, we’ve seen it and now he knows what to expect and how to prepare himself.”

Cover photo: Weaver’s Nick Ledbetter tees off with something other than a driver during Monday’s sub-state qualifying round at Rock Creek Golf Club.

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