Originally published on Thursday, May 3, 2012
YOAKUM - He had baseball practice in a half hour. But, there was a round of golf to complete before Matt Pohler and his father could take the short drive from the Yoakum Municipal Golf Course to his baseball practice in Shiner.
On that searing afternoon time, nor the busy schedule didn't matter too much to either man, because Matt was preparing for his first appearance at the UIL state golf tournament.
Thursday morning the youngest child of Donald and Gerrie Pohler will tee off at a tournament he has tried to reach for the past four years.
"I couldn't be more jubilant," Donald Pohler said. "He's been working hard and preparing for three years. We thought he would make it earlier. Since he waited until the very last moment it's even sweeter. I am as excited, maybe more excited than he is."
Make no mistake Matt is ecstatic at the opportunity to tackle the Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin the next two days. He believes a pair of even par 72s may be enough to bring the individual title back to Shiner.
"I am going to take a pretty aggressive course," Pohler said. "They say it's not too long of a course, its fairly short and there are a lot of drivable holes. . My short game has been saving me. Off the tee I have been struggling. In the regional tournament I think I hit four drivers, the rest were 6-irons."
Yet it was a championship run in another sport that nearly derailed those plans.
Shiner's extended run in the basketball playoffs this winter made Pohler wonder - for a fleeting moment - whether it would hinder his golf game. Those fears wound up being unfounded.
"The first golf tournament I played in I hit balls the day before and that was the first time hitting in four months," Pohler said with a slight laugh. "Going into that first tournament I figured I wouldn't play really well. I kept an open mind and said Golly regionals aren't too far away."
Not only did Pohler make the regional tournament, he placed second to qualify for Austin.
His approach shot on the 36th hole of the Region IV-1A meet was inches away from falling in for a birdie. He tapped in for par to finish one shot behind Tilden McMullen's Clay Atkinson with a 155.
The lanky Pohler, who is just under 6-feet-3-inches tall, is a forward on the basketball team and a three-year starter on the baseball team. Matt got his start in golf after his parents saw something Paul Ebner wrote in the Victoria Advocate about junior golf within the Southern Texas PGA many years ago.
"My brother Nick and I, we just dinked around and hit it every now and then," Matt said. "But (Alan Wooley) showed us the basics of the swing. I got in my backyard. My parents bought me a net and I went at it. I hit 200 balls a day and I got dedicated. My swing started feeling better.
My whole family is a golfing family."
Donald once had an 11 handicap, but he focused more on helping Matt become a good golfer. Pohler's uncle Mike was one of the founders of the Yoakum Municipal Golf Course, while his cousins Jaime and Craig routinely play on the course that could be considered a second home for the family.
Wooley was one of many men who molded Matt into someone who regularly shots in the mid-70s.
Dave Barron, currently a golf pro in Austin, taught Matt golf course etiquette. University of Houston-Victoria head coach Brian Williamson gave Pohler pointers on his short game. Shiner head coach Billy Turek has also been an on-course mentor for the 18 year-old.
It will be Turek who informs Pohler's baseball coach Daniel Boedeker and others in Shiner Matt's progress the next two days.
For a young man worried an extended run in basketball would impact his golf, history is repeating itself. Shiner's baseball program, the District 28-1A champions, are preparing for the playoffs without their starting first baseman - not that Boedeker or any one minds.
"He's a very hard working and that's why he is as successful in as many sports as he is," Boedeker said. "Success always rubs and carries over to other individuals in each sport."