Russell senior golfer Sam McGuire has big dreams. On Tuesday, he took his first step toward them.
McGuire signed a letter of intent in the Russell High School library to play golf at the University of Pikeville.
While playing college golf is a huge deal for McGuire, he still has bigger ideas for where his golf career can take him.
“I still think I can go to the next level and play professionally,” McGuire said. “I’m definitley going to have work on my short game and hitting greens.”
Longtime Russell coach Perry Yates has had McGuire on his team for four years.
“I don’t see anything in his way, same way he did here,” Yates said. “When he was young and started playing, he wasn’t in our top five. But it was in no time that he was. He worked himself there. He earned everything he got.”
During his senior season at Russell, McGuire helped lead the Red Devils to a second-place team finish at the Region 12 meet. He finished fourth individually, shooting
McGuire has also been a regular on the EKJGA Walmart tour.
This also includes picking up a win in a playoff at the River Bend Golf Club, edging Nick Blankenship in three playoff holes. He hopes to get a few more tournaments in this summer before heading to Pikeville.
The EKJGA tour is where Pikeville golf coach Kevin Auton actually started to notice McGuire and his emotion, or lack thereof.
“One of the best things I like about him is his demeanor on the golf course,” Auton said. “You go out there and watch some of these kids who are hotheads and get excited, but he just keeps his cool.
“After he hits a shot you can’t tell if he hit a good one or a bad one. That’s a really good sign.”
Yates knows how McGuire handles himself on the golf course, and knows it will help him in the long run.
“Sam is such a coachable kid,” Yates said. “He doesn’t say a lot of words, but when you go watch him golf it speaks for itself. His attitude is unreal. He got a hole-in-one at River Bend one day and nobody had a clue except the people around clapping.
“Sam comes walking down with the same demeanor and picks his ball up.”
One of the key elements for McGuire at Pikeville is the Bears have a young team. Last season, Pikeville’s top five included four freshmen.
Auton said he wouldn’t be surprised to see McGuire work his way into the top five by the end of the season.
“There could be a chance that I field four or five sophomores and couple of freshmen next year,” Auton said. “He has a natural swing and all the ball-striking abilities you look for in a player.”
When asked what he hopes to bring to Pikeville next year, McGuire couldn’t help to take the time to crack a joke with his new coach.
“I’m definitely going to bring my golf clubs,” McGuire laughed.