Nov 092004
 
Authors: Bob Fernandez

When most kids were learning how to ride bikes or color in the

lines, CSU golfer John Hayes was learning how to swing golf clubs

and sink puts.

“My parents and I moved into the house I grew up in when I was

three years old,” Hayes said. “The backyard overlooks the golf

course. So golf was such a convenience growing up.”

The 6-foot-6-inch senior began playing golf at the age of five

and has since compiled a list of accomplishments that includes

winning a state championship during his senior year at Kent Denver

High School, winning the Colorado State Junior title during the

summer of 1999 and playing in the U.S. Amateur Championship this

past August.

After experiencing plenty of success during his high school golf

career, Hayes enrolled at CSU. He began his college golf career in

2000 as a redshirt freshman.

Although Hayes had a successful freshman year that included a

first-place finish in the 2001 local qualifying tournament for the

U.S. Open, he said he had to make a big adjustment when taking the

jump from the high school level to the college level.

“Initially, the golf experience (at CSU) was a bigger adjustment

than I anticipated, but the past few years have been nothing but

fun,” Hayes said. “CSU has been great to me.”

During his first few years at CSU, Hayes played alongside

All-Americans Martin Laird and Nolan Martin. Last year, the three

of them were major contributors to a talented and experienced team

that posted five team wins during a 13-tournament season.

However when Martin and Laird graduated last spring, the Rams

were left with a more inexperienced and unproven team. Entering

this season as the only senior on CSU’s nine-man roster, Hayes is

faced with the pressure of filling the leadership role vacated by

Martin and Laird.

“It’s very important (for me to provide leadership), especially

with as many new and younger guys on the team this year,” Hayes

said. “But I can only pull my own weight when I’m on the golf

course, so I need to lead by example.”

Teammates like sophomore Aaron Weston, who had played in only

two college tournaments prior to this fall season, have reached out

to Hayes for advice on how to improve their games and perform at a

high level during tournament play.

“John is definitely a good leader,” said Weston, who is also

Hayes’ roommate. “He has seen most of the courses that we play and

can give us all very detailed information on the courses.”

Hayes said he takes golf very seriously and doesn’t

underestimate the never-ending challenge of a game of golf.

“Golf is the type of game that presents a challenge every day no

matter how good you are,” Hayes said. “Once you can appreciate its

difficulty and tradition, it becomes more then just a game.”

Despite taking golf very seriously, Hayes doesn’t seem to allow

himself to become too high-strung by the pressure of playing well,

according to his teammates.

“John is a very fun and easy-going person,” said Derrick

Whiting, Hayes’ teammate. “He is always up for a good time.

“I’ve known John for about a year now, and he is a blast to be

around. Getting to know him and being his friend has been a

pleasure.”

Hayes’ passion and dedication for the game may one day steer him

toward pursuing a professional golf career.

“I feel like I have enough talent to play professional golf, but

there is so much more to becoming a successful professional then

talent alone,” Hayes said. “Sometimes I feel like balancing a

schedule of class(es), homework and golf here at school limits my

ability to prepare (for a pro career) as well as possible.

Hopefully, after school, I can improve by putting all of my focus

into golf.”

The CSU men’s golf coach Jamie Bermel said he thinks Hayes has

the potential to be a successful pro, but first he has to gain more

confidence.

“John is a confidence player; if he is feeling good about his

game, (then) he can be very dangerous,” Bermel said. “His weakness

is his head. Sometimes he gets down on himself pretty hard. I think

he is his own worst enemy at times.”

If Hayes can gain the confidence to go with his skills, then he

can be a successful pro, Bermel said.

“(Hayes) hits it (off the tee) probably about as far as anyone

in college golf, (he’s a) good putter, (and he) chips the ball

fairly well,” Bermel said. “The sky is the limit for John. If he

commits himself to the game, I think he could be very competitive.

I think if he has a good spring (season), he will definitely

consider going pro.”

After a fall season that included one top-15 tournament finish

(a 13th place tie on Sept. 12 at the Radrick Farms Invitational),

Hayes will have a chance this spring to build the confidence and

momentum to turn pro after college. The spring season kicks off on

Feb. 23, at the John Burns Intercollegiate tournament in Honolulu,

Hawaii.

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