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Bow’s Cole quickly feels at home on the golf course

Tyler Cole from Concord Country Club tees off on the 8th hole at the Stonebridge Country Club Monday for the opening round of the State Am Golf Championship.

(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)

Tyler Cole from Concord Country Club tees off on the 8th hole at the Stonebridge Country Club Monday for the opening round of the State Am Golf Championship. (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)

Two years ago, Tyler Cole was cut from the Bow High School golf team. This year he qualified for the New Hampshire Golf Association Amateur Championship. And the turning point on that accelerated learning curve was a dodgeball injury.

Yes, you read that correctly – a dodgeball injury. Cole was in gym class at Bow in December of 2012 when he jumped during a dodgeball game, landed the wrong way and seriously injured his knee, dislocating his kneecap and tearing ligaments and cartilage.

“Blowing out my knee like that prevented me from playing baseball in the spring, but that spurred me on to play more golf, and that’s when I really started gaining interest it,” Cole said. “And really I’ve been playing almost every day since then.”

“Every time I go to the course, boom, he’s there,” Bow golf Coach Mike Seraikas said. “It’s like he’s living there.”

Cole, 17, had been on a golf course a few times as a younger kid, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that he started playing on a regular basis. Still, he was shooting in the 120’s when he tried out for the Bow team as a sophomore that fall.

After the knee injury, however,

he fell in love with the sport. He liked that it was an individual endeavor. He really liked the steady progressions he was making with his swing and his scores.

Cole took a few lessons, but mostly he’s self-taught. He recorded his swing with his iPad, compared it to professional swings and made adjustments accordingly. And when he tried out for the high school team again last fall, he made the cut.

He played in only two varsity matches for the Falcons, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Bow went undefeated last fall and ran away with its second straight Division III championship. Cole may not have contributed much on the course, but he still made a positive impact.

“The kid is all about the team, he’s a hard worker and his attitude is great,” Seraikas said. “He’s a very nice kid. The type of kid everybody likes.”

“It was a great experience to be on that team and around that atmosphere even though I didn’t play that much,” Cole said. “A bunch of my friends were on the team, so I got to watch them play, and it was fun to be a part of all that.”

Armed with even more motivation, Cole kept working on his game this spring. He then played in some NHGA junior events early in the summer, but he wasn’t even thinking about trying to qualify for the State Am until his friend and Bow High teammate Jeremy Duhamel suggested he give it a shot.

Cole and Duhamel, who will be seniors at Bow this year, were both playing in the NHGA Junior Championship at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands in Salem on June 23, and both used the qualifying round of that tournament to also qualify for the State Am. Duhamel shot a 72, Cole carded a 76, and both qualified for the State Am as well as the match play portion of the Junior Championship.

“To go from where he was a couple years ago and then take it to the top level and qualify for the state amateur with a 76, that’s unbelievable,” Seraikas said.

Cole could hardly believe it himself.

“I definitely surprised myself that I did play that well in such a competitive atmosphere,” he said.

Producing under pressure had been a problem for Cole in the two varsity matches he played for Bow. He started strong in both but then faded as the stakes increased. Unfortunately for Cole, that trend continued last week in the State Am. He shot an 88 on the first day at Stonebridge County Club in Goffstown, an 89 on the second day, and he finished near the bottom of the pack.

“I wasn’t happy with it, those were the two worst rounds I had played this year. It was the nerves and not knowing the course very well,” Cole said. “My short game really let me down. I couldn’t chip or putt.”

But he doesn’t regret playing.

“I really just wanted to learn from the experience and learn what it’s like to play in a big tournament like that,” Cole said. “I got some advice from some of the other players and they were saying experience really helps in that kind of an event. The more you play in them the better you get.”

He hopes that experience helps him this fall when he will likely step into a bigger role with a Bow team aiming for its third consecutive title.

“That’s the goal,” Cole said.

It’s a goal his coach believes he can reach.

“Considering where he’s taken his game, the sky’s the limit for Tyler, I think,” Seraikas said. “It’s really a great story, how far he’s come in two years. It just shows if you want something bad enough you can have it if you’re willing to work.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or 369-3341 or on Twittter @timosullivan20.)

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