Moments after he finished the 18th hole at last year’s Class 6A boys golf regional, all Derby’s Quincy Stith could do was sit in the team’s van and cry.
Stith had stood on the tee of the par 5 at Rolling Meadows Golf Course in Junction City, needing to make a bogey in order for the Panthers to qualify for the state tournament. Instead, Stith hit three tee shots out of bounds and made an 11.
“I thought it was all set,” Stith said. “I felt good about us being able to go.”
Stith admitted that he was in a rut for a long time following regionals. There was no motivation. There was no desire.
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“I was in a slump,” Stith said.
But after a few weeks, Stith and his father, Winston, returned to the course. The two spent hour after hour trying to recapture the progress Stith made last season, when he emerged as one of the best young golfers in the area.
“I finally realized that there is a tomorrow,” Stith said. “I talked myself into always finding the positives. I would still pick out the things I needed to work on, but always found time to focus on the positives.”
Last week at Derby Country Club, Stith shot 77 in his regional and finished third, but more importantly, he led the Panthers back to the 6A tournament, which is Monday at Topeka Country Club.
Derby coach Tim Herrs said Stith is one of the more unselfish players he has coached and being able to lead the Panthers to state was more important than the individual honors.
“Very rarely have I had to remind him to work harder in practice,” Herrs said. “He’s very much a self-starter and knows exactly what parts of his game he needs to work on more and which parts don’t need as much work. He knows his game very well.”
In all but two meets this season, Stith shot in the 70s. He shot his best score, a 74, at Turkey Creek in McPherson and won the Panthers’ own tournament, with a 78 — the only player in the field to break 80.
Herrs said Stith is a thinker on the course and spends a lot of time analyzing each shot, making sure he is executing the proper shot at the proper time.
“I try to block out all distractions on the course, so I don’t talk much to the other players,” Stith said. “I think it’s very important to stay focused on what I am doing, rather than trying to have a conversation with the other players.”
Topeka Country Club, a tight, tree-lined course, sets up well for Stith, whose strength is accuracy with his irons.
“My iron and wedge play have really improved this season,” Stith said. “So I would obviously like to win state on Tuesday, but I’ve worked so hard that I just want to play well and have fun.”