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Things were a little Fish-y at boys golf state finals

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012, at 11:23 AM

(Photo)
Former Linton-Stockton golfer Tim Fish watches the boys golf state finals earlier this week at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin. Fish, a back-to-back state finalist in 2001 and 2002, was keeping an eye of Clayton French, who competed for the Miners at this year's event. (By B.J. Hargis/Greene County Daily World).
FRANKLIN -- As I made my way to The Legends Golf Club on Tuesday to watch Linton-Stockton junior Clayton French compete in the opening round of the Indiana High School Athletic Association's golf state finals, disguised in a Phil Harris Golf Course bucket hat, Miner tennis T-shirt and brown shorts was none other than Tim Fish.

It's hard to believe that it was 10 years ago when Fish, the son of Doug and Beverly Fish of Linton, was making his second straight appearance at the state finals.

After shooting a 76 and missing the cut for a second 18 holes at the state finals in 2001, Fish returned to the state finals in 2002 as a senior.

Fish recorded a 71-72, giving him a 143 for his two-day total at The Legends. It was good enough to finish third in the state.

Fish, who was low medalist at the regional 10 years ago, earned All-State honors in 2001 and 2002.

While Miner players, coach Derek Bradbury, and Linton-Stockton golf fans made the two-hour trip to The Legends, Fish had a much closer drive to watch French.

Fish now teaches mathematics and coaches the boys golf team at nearby Whiteland High School, which also is located in Johnson County, just south of Indianapolis. He said guessed he is following career-wise in the footsteps of Linton-Stockton math teacher Cheryl Ash.

"I wanted to come out and support Clayton," said Fish, who was long since familiar with the area as he spent four years as a student-athlete at Franklin College. "His a really good kid and a really good golfer.

"I am very happy to see someone back up here from Linton."

That is a very short list. The 1984 and 2005 Miner teams both advanced to state. The 1984 team was third at the Terre Haute Sectional and fifth at the Bedford Regional at Otis Park to earn a trip to the state finals at the Old Oakland Golf Course in Indianapolis.

Coach Wally Swaby's Miners consisted of Lee Elliott, Greg Elliott, Scott Markle, Roy Payne and Mark Orr and they finished 19th and did not qualify for a second day of competition. Lee Elliott had qualified as an individual for state competition in 1982.

Chad House was the coach of the 2005 Miner team that featured Drew Dunkerly, Caleb Fischer, Shane Thornton, Caleb Dunkerly, and Chris Taylor. They were regional champs that season, but did not make the cut for a second day at state.

Tuesday, Fish quietly made his way around the Middle Nine and then the Road Nine, the 18 of 27 holes at The Legends selected for the state competition, usually staying ahead of the other spectators.

He still seemed to know the course like the back of his hand.

"The course really hasn't changed much since I played here 10 years ago," said Fish.

He has the unusual view as a former player and coach. Occasionally, he would comment that French needed to leave his driver in the bag on certain holes.

"But I know that is the way he plays," said Fish, who arguably is the best golfer that ever played prep golf at Linton.

Fish, who is yet unmarried but says he has a significant other, said that he had trouble finding any Linton-Stockton High School apparel to wear to show support of a golfer from his alma mater.

"This was all I could find," Fish said. "This was my shirt from my junior year of playing tennis.

"I have all kind of Whiteland shirts, but I needed to wear something from Linton today."

In my mind, I was in reverse all day, thinking about what a pleasure it was to watch Fish and yet enjoying watching the low-key French make save after save, finishing with a two-over par 74 and qualify for a second day of competition.

I was thinking back to what then Miner coach Darren Clayton said about Fish.

"I think he is the best player that has ever played here. I won't hedge anymore," coach Clayton told me after the tournament in 2002 and before he coached some of the players on the 2005 state team. "You look at the numbers or you can look at how he plays in big tournaments.

"You can look at it a lot of different ways, but he is the best that has ever played here."

The Miners have had a storied golf history. Between 1984 and 2002, they advanced to the regional 10 times. They were 1989 sectional champs and 2005 regional champions. They have won 13 straight conference championships and were sectional champions this year.

"There has been a lot of good players at Linton," said Darren. "From the time I was in school playing, there was Greg Elliott, Scott Markle and Chad House and that bunch was good.

"If I remember, Randy Goodman won the Greene County Open (like Fish did in 2000) when he was in high school. Tom Jones was a very good golfer. But as good as those guys were, I have a hard time believing any of those guys were better. There are even more names, such as Brock Anderson, a guy I coached. I hate to start naming names because there are so many."

Back then, Clayton said even if you expand the list to cover Greene County, there are many more good golfers, including Bloomfield's Shane Miller.

Although French had a poor second-day performance (83) and finished with a 157, he will have a chance to do something Fish never did -- play both days in consecutive years at the state finals. He actually was the first Miner golf (boys) to qualify for a second day of competition in his first performance.

"This has been a learning experience for me," said French. "Hopefully I will have a chance to get back here next year and do even better."

If he does make it, I can almost guarantee that Fish, who was named honorable mention Academic All-State in 2002, will be there, even if he is dressed in an old, out of date Miner shirt.

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at hargisbj@gmail.com or at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12.


Comments
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First of all I want to congratulate the Miner Golf Team on a fantastic season. I especially want to say that to Clayton. For those of us who have played competitive golf we know just how much work goes into the success that all these young men had this year. Golf is not an easy game by any stretch and playing consistently at a high level is even harder. Congrats Clayton!

I also want to thank B.J. for a great article and thought I would share some memories from the early days. Back in about 1978 as a 12 year old Darren Clayton stayed the night at my house. The next morning he was going golfing and invited me to go along. I had never played golf before but I tagged along because it sure beat mowing the yard. We played 18 holes that day from the junior tees and I shot a 128. From that day on I was forever hooked on the game of golf.

I remember playing everyday all summer from daylight to dark. We would walk 54 to 72 holes a day almost every day. I am very thankful for Ted Bishop and the other men at the golf course who looked after us and threw us a ball every once in while to help us out. They taught us a lot about the game and a lot about life along the way. I am thankful for Bob Lace who always helped me out with clubs and balls as I needed them.

When I was a 7th grader Wally Swaby came to Linton as a guidance counselor/teacher and took over the Linton Golf Program. He started Linton's first Jr High golf program basically because he got tired of me and some buddies begging him to start one. Wally told us if we could get enough kids to play that he would find us some golf matches. So that began my early sales career as I began recruiting my friends to join us.

Wally continued to push us all the way through High School and when Lee Elliott qualified for state in 1982 it lifted the ceiling off of things for us. We all realized with a little harder work we could do it too. Our Senior year it paid off as we went to State. Wally made a huge difference in our lives as he made it his priority to send our scores to local colleges and because of his efforts 6 or 7 of us that played together during my four years went on to play college golf.

I think what makes me most proud of this Golf program is that it has become a tradition and that these young men continue to carry it on. We don't have the facilities here that the big cities have. We don't have the courses that they have either but the game of golf is as much mental as it is physical and we have kids that know how to play the game and work on their craft. You would be hard pressed to find another sport in the last 30 years at Linton that has gotten kids more scholarships/tuition waivers for athletics than Miner Golf. A quick count off the top of my head and we are around two dozen and that may be missing some.

I am proud that I played a little part in the beginning of this tradition but I am even more proud in knowing that there are young men today that are continuing to take pride in that and continuing to excel and carrying on a Miner Tradition.

Greg Elliott

Proud Miner Golf ALumni

-- Posted by gregelliott on Fri, Jun 15, 2012, at 3:41 PM


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Enough said
B.J. Hargis
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