The game of golf can be tricky when it comes to handling mental anxiety and pressure. Waiting for the next round or preparing for that next shot is something that does not have a lead-in time of a matter of seconds, such as a game-winning shot attempt in basketball or a field goal try in football.
In golf, it can be minutes or even hours that one has to mentally prepare himself for big situations.
Michael Sharp has mastered that aspect of his game.
The bigger the stage and the longer the wait, the more the junior from East Noble shines. That has helped him earn the honor of being the 2013 News-Sentinel Boys' Golf Player of the Year.
“Good golfers can self talk and keep themselves focused over long periods of time,” said Sharp, who tied for seventh at the state meet with a two-day score of 142 while taking second in both sectional and regional action. “I think it is something you have to embrace.”
There is no doubt that the junior has embraced big venues and big events and done his best in the limelight. After a 28th place finish a year ago as a sophomore in the state finals, Sharp improved to tie for seventh in 2013, with an eye on a state title next season.
He also took second overall at the Warsaw Regional and recently qualified for the US Amateur Public Championship in Virginia in mid-July.
“You have to have that extra itch and tell yourself, 'Yeah, I have been here before,” Sharp said. “I just keep telling myself that I am a good golfer and that I can do this.”
That attitude helps with Sharp's consistency.
“He expects to do well every time out,” East Noble coach Dick Bentz said. “He is always so consistent with the way he approaches each round or event.”
Sharp also does not let the nature of a course rattle him. While some golfers have a difficult time adjusting to a long or short course or one with long fairways or short greens, Sharp has worked hard to where he can play a course well no matter how it is tailored.
“He is very much of the sense of 'tees to greens, tees to greens,'” Bentz said. “He just goes from hole to hole and shot to shot and focuses on just that one, not worrying about the rest (of the course).”
While Sharp plays plenty of rounds at his home course of Noble Hawk, he will work in some practice rounds at a course that is holding an upcoming event. He does not try anything fancy, but instead adjusts accordingly to the attributes of the course.
“One of the things I try to do in my game is play the course the way the course is supposed to be played,” Sharp said. “Courses have different styles of play, and some players match up with a particular course very well. I just try to find what works at each place I play and go from there.”
Where Sharp goes from here is Michigan State after next year's senior campaign with the Knights. While looking forward to the challenges of collegiate golf, Sharp also has his eyes on improvement during the summer months.
“I am going to play in a lot of different tournaments and events this summer to continue to get better,” Sharp said. “Hopefully, I can do pretty well.”
One thing is for sure, nerves won't get him down.
News-Sentinel All-area boys golf team
Michael Sharp, East Noble
Patrick Allgeier, Bishop Dwenger
Callahan Elzey, Bishop Dwenger
Spencer Gillig, Bishop Dwenger
Trent Van Horn, Canterbury
Stephen Shupert, Carroll
Reid Worden, Carroll
Garrett Leeper, Carroll
Tyler Green, Columbia City
Bobby Wray, Concordia Lutheran
Carter Dornseif, Heritage
Nick Bienz, Heritage
Chandler Reinking, Leo
Nate Morris, Leo