Sports

Making sweet swing music

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Tempo is key to being successful in the game of golf.

It’s also the backbone to any great piece of music. The perfect golf swing is a thing of beauty, much like something you would hear during a Beethoven symphony or a piano concerto from Chopin.

Eric Taylor knows what good tempo can do for you on and off the golf course. Just ask the Decatur High School senior.

“Feeling flow and tempo is huge in golf,” Taylor said. “And playing music helps me a lot.”

Taylor has been classically trained on the piano for the last eight years and also has been playing the clarinet for the last seven — almost as long as he’s been swinging a golf club. He started playing the sport at the age of 8 with his father.

“Golf is something I have control over,” he said. “It’s something I can manipulate with my practice and see the outcome.”

Much like playing music, practice also makes perfect in golf.

Taylor’s game, along with several others from the Federal Way School District, will be on display today at the South Puget Sound League Tournament at Bremerton’s Gold Mountain Golf Course. Today the golfers will attempt to qualify for the spring’s Class 4A State Golf Championships. The top-16 boys and girls after today’s second round advance. The opening round was played yesterday at Gold Mountain.

“I think two rounds in the 60s will win it,” Taylor said. “And I think I can shoot two rounds in the 60s. My confidence is pretty high right now.”

But that confidence wasn’t part of the talented Taylor’s golf game earlier this season.

“Actually he just sucked for a couple weeks,” Decatur coach Kevin Olson said bluntly.

Something that wasn’t expected from a senior, who finished 11th at last year’s state championships and was tabbed as one of the favorites entering this season. But the problems weren’t just with Taylor’s golf game. His attitude wasn’t always top-notch, according to Olson.

“I had about enough of it,” he said. “He was kind of being a goof-ball.”

The match against Jefferson Sept. 30, marked the turning point in Taylor’s season. He fired a very uncharacteristic 8-over par on the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club course he plays pretty much every day. The round included snapping a club on the par-3, seventh hole.

“I kind of went through a midseason slump,” Taylor said. “I just wasn’t practicing the right things. I was switching around with putters and toying with my 3-wood. I just wasn’t as confident as I was last year. But Olson kind of put me back on track.”

“I kind of had it out with him,” Olson said. “He and I have had several intense issues about his behavior, leadership and mental approach. I think he was all focused on getting a college scholarship and just when I thought things were going to blow up, Eric made the switch back to the guy who just goes out and plays his round, refocused on taking care of his business and bringing in fantastic scorecards.”

Since the TJ match at Twin Lakes, Taylor finished the final three matches of Decatur’s season 4-under par and was the medalist (low round) in each of them.

“I think I’m back now,” Taylor said. “But I’m a perfectionist in everything I do.”

That is evident to anybody who watches him on the practice range. Taylor hasn’t went more than a day without practicing in over a year and a half and his summertime schedule included some seven- to eight-hour days at the course. He also follows the same weight-training plan as several PGA players.

Taylor is still up in the air about what he is going to do next year in college, but both golf and music are in his plans.

He’s had some interest from the University of Washington, the University of Puget Sound and Washington State, he said.

“I’m just going to see what they have to offer for music and golf and we’ll go from there.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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