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Poca senior brings consistency to links play

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By Nick Brockman

Putnam Review

Poca High School senior Mitch Hoffman finished ninth at the 42nd West Virginia Junior Amateur Championship last month at Canaan Valley Resort. Courtesy photo

From tee to green and round to round, Poca senior Mitch Hoffman maintains steady swings and scores.

In a sport that depends patience and mental focus, Hoffman regularly brings a solid approach that results in strong scorecards.

“He’s very consistent, that’s his strength,” Poca golf coach Dough Smith said of Hoffman. “He’s never going to throw out one low number and one high number. He’s always going to be about the same score when he’s playing. I always know what I’m going to get from him.”

Hoffman finished fourth overall to earn Class AA All-State honors at last year’s state tournament. This summer, Hoffman has stayed busy in anticipation of another successful fall season.

“Right now, I’m focusing on playing a bunch of different tournaments around the state and out of state, with the West Virginia Golf Association, the (American Junior Golf Association) and other tournaments like that, trying to prepare myself for my senior season,” Hoffman said.

At the 42nd West Virginia Junior Amateur Championship, held June 27-28 at the Canaan Valley Resort, Hoffman shot 74-77 to finish ninth overall.

“I played OK – I wasn’t pleased with it, but the first day was really tough,” he said. “It was really windy.”

Adjustments and focus often represent the difference between success and failure, Hoffman said.

“You can be hitting the ball well and still not finish well due to you just lose focus,” he said. “I know a couple times up at Canaan Valley, I missed a couple short putts because I thought about something or just didn’t commit to it. Probably about 80 percent of the game is mental, really.

“I’m trying right now to stay in the moment and not look ahead, because I have a problem with that. You get a couple under par through eight holes and then you’re thinking well now I can shoot 66 or something like that, and then you fall apart. You just have to take it one hole at a time basically.”

Smith said he agreed the key to a low score lies within concentration.

“Golf is so mental,” Smith said. “You have to have physicality in it, but so much of it is in between your ears.”

Hoffman brings focus at the time it’s perhaps needed most, in putting, Smith said.

“He putts the ball well,” Smith said of Hoffman. “Anybody who’s been around the game of golf has heard this: You drive for show, putt for dough. That’s very true. Look at all the professional golfers. If you can’t putt, you don’t stay around there very long. That’s one thing he can do. He putts the ball very well.”

With his consistency and sharp mental focus, Hoffman said he hopes to finish his high school career on a high note.

“I know there’s a lot of good players, but I would like to make a run at it and definitely top my score from last year,” he said. “I feel like I could do that.”


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