You wouldn't know it from the way he hits the golf ball these days, but South River freshman Josh Eure wasn't very involved in the sport even while growing up near a world-famous course.
Eure, who turned 14 in May, used to live two miles from Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, home of the Masters and one very famous green jacket. But it wasn't until Eure's family moved to Maryland several years ago that the talented Little League baseball player turned to a sport with a different kind of swing. When he was living in Georgia, Eure said, golf "was not part of my world."
"I went there [to the Masters] one year," Eure said last week during a practice round with his teammates at South River Golf Club. "The one thing I remember was Tiger Woods on an approach shot, how smooth and good his swing was. That's about the only thing I can remember."
Eure said Woods is among his favorite pro golfers, along with two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and Spain's Sergio Garcia.
But about four years ago, Eure estimated, his uncle Jerry took him to a golf course. He liked it, and started playing with his dad, Ron, a former football player at the University of North Carolina. Each summer, he attended a golf camp in North Carolina.
Now Eure has a 5 handicap, is one of the county's top scorers and is likely to be a strong contender at the county championships a week from Monday at Compass Pointe.
At the preseason tournament in August, before his first class in high school, he shot 74-78 to finish third behind Severna Park's Matt Guanti and Kelly Lynch. A few weeks later, he exacted some revenge, beating his good friend Guanti in an A-Division match featuring South River, Severna Park, Old Mill, Arundel, Broadneck and Annapolis (the other six schools make up the B Division). Last week at Renditions Golf Club in Davidsonville, Eure was the only golfer to break 40 for 9 holes in another A-Division match; the next day he shot a 38 at Marlton.
"I just love the game," Eure said. "You can come out here and play the best round of your life one day and come out the next and shoot God-knows-what."
This past summer, Eure played in a multitude of junior tournaments, events that draw talented players from across the region and test a young player's mettle in pressure situations. He advanced past the stroke play qualifying round and into the match play rounds at the Bobby Gorin Memorial, one of the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association's popular events. Eure also played on the Titleist Junior Tour (mid-Atlantic region) and the Elite Players Tour (events in Maryland and Virginia). He won the first Elite Tour event he entered, at Timbers at Troy, in Elkridge.
Troy Beck, who has taught junior golfers for 27 years and who played in 30 LPGA Tour events, helped Eure this year with his lower body stability during the swing. "He tended to overswing," said Beck, who teaches out of Glenn Dale Golf Club in Prince George's County. "We shortened his swing and stabilized his lower body."
Eure's assessment was less technical and more, well, relieved: "She helped me get my swing back."
His goal this season is to "win counties and make states."
Eure was thrust into the role of playing in the No. 1 slot because senior Riley Owens was ineligible for the first few weeks. Owens was slated to return this week and, according to Coach Bruce Bowen, will play No. 1.
Bowen pointed to one reason for Eure's success at an early age.
"His maturity on the course," said Bowen. "I attribute a lot of that to his dad. Josh is relaxed but focused. His confidence is there. He'll say, 'I can make this kind of a shot.' "