BOB WEST ON GOLF: PN-G has rising star in Elmore

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Upon further review, Josh Elmore was not the first Port Neches-Groves golfer to win a regional championship.
There is a reasonable chance, however, that he could be the first to win it twice, maybe even three times, because the Indians’ sophomore is clearly a quick learner and rising star.
For now, Elmore and Michael Dulin share bragging rights on being a regional champ, with Dulin having won as a junior in 1985 at Chambers County Golf Club. Dulin, as a three-year standout, was part of a golden era of PN-G golf that saw the Indians advance to state three consecutive years. Interestingly enough, he was also a teammate of Josh’s dad, Trey Elmore.
Flash forward to 2016 and Trey is riding the high of watching his son’s rapid ascent to be the face of the area’s premier golf program. If his improvement continues at the same startling pace, it seems possible he’ll be on a level with Chris Stroud, Andrew Landry, Braden Bailey and Dulin when he
moves on from the Reservation.
Elmore, you see, didn’t really get into golf until he was 12. He got up one day and told his dad he wanted a set of golf clubs. Four years later, with the help of Trey, his grandfather and an instructor in Spring named Cole Smith, he’s proven to have a remarkable learning curve.
PN-G coach Ricky Keyes saw enough from Elmore as a freshman to anticipate he had a chance of becoming a pretty good player. Keyes, though, didn’t expect things to come together so fast, and was unaware that Josh didn’t take up the game until he was 12.
“It’s pretty amazing,” says the PN-G coach. “You could see the talent was there. He was still small and a relatively short hitter off the tee. But he had such a great short game he was able to score. Over the last year he’s grown several inches and added distance off the tee without losing accuracy. The sky is the limit for him.”
To be specific about the growth, Elmore has sprouted three inches to 5-8, put on 20 pounds and estimates he’s 40 yards longer off the tee. Instead of losing a little control with the extra length, Josh insists he’s gained accuracy.
“I hit my driver really good and straight,” he says. “The strength of my game is ball striking. I’ve also been chipping the ball really well. The weakest part of my game is putting.”
Both player and coach cite the season Elmore spent around four-year PN-G star Bailey and his work ethic as having been invaluable.
“Josh was fortunate that he was able to watch Braden last year, to see how hard he practiced and prepared,” Keyes said. “I think he has a lot of similarities in his game to Braden. He often asks what I think Braden would have done in certain situations.”
“The main thing I learned from Braden is you just need to put in as much hard work as you can,” Elmore said.
Elmore’s last two tournaments have resulted in tying teammate Tyler Feemster for the District 22-5A championship at Chambers County, then putting together back-to-back 73s to win 5A Region III medalist honors by three strokes at River Ridge in Sealy.
Next up is the 5A state tournament at Wolfdancer Golf Club in Bastrop. It’s a difficult course that doesn’t hold particularly good memories for Elmore. He shot 86-82 there last year to finish 45th.
With good reason, he expects to do much better next Monday and Tuesday.
“For starters, I’m a much better player than I was a year ago,” he says. “I have much more confidence in my game. It was really windy there last year. If it is windy again this year, I can work trajectory much better. If I can keep my head together, I think I will have a shot.”
Elmore will be chasing more PN-G golf history at Wolfdancer. Two Indians have claimed medals at state, with Rusty Shannon finishing second in 1994 and Dulin placing third in 1986. Landry finished tied for third in 2005 but lost out on the bronze medal in playoff. Bailey’s best finish, meanwhile, was a T6 in 2014.
As well as Josh is playing, and as confident as he is, the Indians’ state roll call could be about to expand.

Bailey continued his stellar freshman-year play for Baylor last weekend in Oklahoma State’s Maxwell Intercollegiate. Bailey shot 138 (68-70) in an event shorted to 36 holes by rain. His four-under-par effort was good for a T7, four shots behind the winning score, and helped the Bears finish second to Texas.
Bailey leads Baylor with five top 10 finishes this season and has been under par in 12 of 26 rounds. His next tournament is the Big 12 Championship April 29-May 1 at Whispering Pines in Trinity. …
Provided the TPC San Antonio hasn’t washed away, all four PGA Tour players with Southeast Texas ties — Chris Stroud, Andrew Landry, Shawn Stefani and Dawie van der Walt — will be playing in the Valero Texas Open.
Stefani, who was T13 entering the final round of last week’s RBC Heritage, slipped to 74 in the final round and finished 32nd. Stroud, after making the 36-hole cut, skidded to a 79 in round three and was eliminated on the 54-hole cut. …
Josh Elmore won’t be the only area player in the boys state tournament next week. Bridge City’s Skylar Petroski shot 77-75—152 at Ravens Nest in Huntsville to finish fifth in the 4A Region III championships and earned a trip to the 4A state tourney at Onion Creek in Austin. Bridge City’s team finished fifth in regional. …
Karlei Hemler and Brynna Bailey will be representing PN-G in the 5A girls state tourney at Lost Pines. Hemler shot 146 (75-71) and Bailey carded a 151 (74-71) to advance from the 5A regional. …
Competing in a two-ball format in the Super Saturday Game at Babe Zaharias, the team of Ed Holley, Harrell Guidry, Larry Vicknair and Robert Lynch won the front with minus-3. On the back, the team of Cap Hollier, Jim Jordan, Gerald Huebel and Mark Petry won with minus 1. …
The Friday Game at Zaharias was also played in a best two-ball format. On the front, the team of Hollier, Paul Flores, Gene Jones and Wes McDonald won with minus-5. The back was won at minus-3 by the team of Rick Pritchett, Bob Byerly, Lee Bertrand and Dan Flood. Pritchett authored an eagle on the par-4 17th when he holed a sand wedge from 100 yards. …
The Thursday Senior Game was played in an individual stroke play format, with handicaps. In First Flight, Pritchett and Byerly tied for first with 70s. Second flight ended in a three-way tie at 69 between Charles Leard, Gary Fontenot and Don MacNeil. Third Flight saw a two-way deadlock at 67 between Art Miller and Gary Anderson. Closest to the pin winners were Jobie Irvine (No. 2), Earl Richard (No. 7), Ray Gallier (No. 12) and Gary Anderson (No. 15).

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