By Tim Morris
Bobby Weise never put his golf swing away.
While playing at shooting guard for the Freehold Township High School boys basketball team, Weise found time to go into the garage at his home, where he put shots in another net — one catching golf balls. Off a turf mat, Weise hit shot after shot into the net to maintain the muscle memory of his swing so that he would be ready when the golf season began this month.
With the golf season now in full swing, it appears the Patriots junior has had the best of both worlds. The Patriots had another winning season on the hardwood and last week, Weise finished second at the Monmouth County Golf Tournament.
During the basketball season, Weise helped the Patriots reach the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV finals for the second straight year and win the Shore Conference A North Division championship again. He was the club’s top 3-point threat, even hitting nine in one game.
“It definitely was a great, great time for basketball,” Weise said. “We had a lot of fun and made a run in the state tournament.”
With that second-place finish in the county golf tournament, which was played April 18 at Howell Park Golf Course, and with the Shore Conference Tournament taking place April 26 at Charleston Springs Golf Course in Millstone, the Patriot could be on his way to making the golf season memorable as well.
Weise comes off a great sophomore season in which he won the Freehold Regional High School District championship. However, he made his biggest impression at the major meets, finishing second in the NJSIAA Central/South Jersey, Group IV tournament, third at the Group IV championship and eighth overall at the Tournament of Champions. With a second-place showing already at the county tournament, he seems to be ahead of scheduled.
Last year’s success taught Weise much about his game and competing against the best.
“I’m feeling more comfortable playing tournaments,” he said. “I’ve learned to stay patient.”
Although he’s a solid driver — averaging 270 yards off the tee — Weise pointed out that his strength is around the green with his chipping and putting.
“I’m good off the tee keeping [drives] straight and giving myself a chance to be on the green,” he said.
It’s the second shot to the green that is key for the Weise. If he can get his iron shots onto the green, he can use his putter to make birdies and not just save pars.
In his first time out earlier this month, he finished 11th at the Wall Invitational held at the Jumping Brook Golf Course in Neptune. That round showed him what he needed to work on to score better.
“I used it as a learning experience,” he said. “I tried to force things, force putts. It told me I have to hit more greens in regulation.”
The Patriot obviously went to work following the Wall meet, finishing in a three-way tie for second place at the Monmouth County Tournament.
Weise carded a 1-over-par 73, tying Christian Brothers Academy’s (CBA) Jack Wall and Reid Bedell from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, who had won the Wall Invitational. CBA’s Chris Gotterup was in a league of his own that day, shooting a tournament record of 6-under-par 66 — seven strokes clear of the field.
Weise knows what it’s like to get on a roll like that. In fact, it is where golf and basketball merge.
“Golf is the same way as basketball — when you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it,” Weise said. “You know every shot is going to go in and the putts keep falling. It feels good to be in the zone.”
Weise is a rare self-taught golfer who doesn’t have a swing coach to turn to, and he believes it gives him an advantage. Rather than having a coach continually tinkering with his swing and getting into his head, the Patriot knows what is best for him. It is very helpful during a match, especially when he needs to make a big shot. There’s no confusion over what kind of swing to make.
“When the pressure comes, I have my normal swing to fall back on,” he said.
As much as Weise likes basketball and its teamwork, he equally enjoys the solitude of golf and being his own master.
“The upside [of golf is] I like being on my own,” he said. “I have to rely on myself to make a good shot.
“I always go out and try and do my best. I set the bar high for myself. Each tournament means a lot to me.”
The one thing missing from Weise’s sophomore campaign was a major win — something he’d like to achieve this spring. He came close at the state sectional, where was the leader in the clubhouse until the next-to-last group.
“I thought I played a great round,” he said.
It will soon be time for Weise to begin his college search. When it comes down to the two sports, he said, “I lean a bit more toward golf.”
Monmouth County Tournament
Besides Weise’s second-place tie, the Monmouth County Tournament was a good one for golfers from the district.
Howell High School’s Noah Sloane was sixth after carding a fine 75. Teammate Mike Stefanelli tied for 11th, shooting a 78.
Freehold High School’s Chris LaBarbara finished in a tie for 20th and his teammate, Russell Herbert, Colts Neck High School’s Brendan Hunt and Manalapan High School’s Dan Gaul tied for 24th with 84s.
Manalapan’s Dan Natoli and Freehold’s Lewis Wright tied for 28th with 94s.
All have qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament that was schedule for April 26 at Millstone’s Charleston Springs Golf Course.
The top eight teams from the county tournament also advance to the conference tournament. Howell made the cut in sixth with 337 points. CBA won handily with its score of 298.
Freehold was 10th at 346.
The girls Monmouth County Tournament was played April 14 at Sungeagles Golf Club in Eatontown. Howell’s Rebecca Hamilton topped the district girls, finishing 10th and shooting a 99.