AJGA Natural Resources Partners Bluegrass Junior

Bill Gribble takes a picture of his son, Cody Gribble, Friday during the final round of the AJGA Natural Resources Partners Bluegrass Junior at Bellefonte Country Club. Cody Gribble held a wide lead and a record-setting pace in the final round.

They say things are bigger in Texas.

“They” are usually Texans I suppose, but that familiar phrase couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to 15-year-old golfer Cody Gribble.

The winner of this week’s NRP Bluegrass Junior is all about small, as in small numbers like 63 and 66. Those scores in his first two rounds at Bellefonte Country Club gave him an eight-shot cushion and his 71 on Friday was plenty good enough to win in record-setting fashion.

But Gribble’s first win on the American Junior Golf Association tour did not come about in just three days at the par-70 course. No, it started a long time ago.

Like other sports, it takes an ample amount of dedication to become a champion, even for juniors. For Gribble, it started when he was just 5 years old when he began keeping his own score.

His maturation began to take shape on the driving range and putting greens at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. Besides the commitment of time to get better, junior golf is all about technique and the teachers who provide it.

In Gribble’s case, his primary teacher is Randy Smith, who can occasionally be seen on the Golf Channel. Smith is well known in the Dallas area for his teachings and tutored PGA Tour professional Justin Leonard.

But besides the time commitment and the professional teaching, there’s more. There’s the financial commitment from his parents, Bill and Diane, who have been on the road with their son for the last two weeks. There’s the pressure of playing for Texas’ seven-time high school state champion, Highland Park. And, of course, there’s the girls.

“He spends a lot of time practicing, and in my opinion too much. I’d like to see him get more efficient with it and develop his life with the girls coming on and so forth,” Bill Gribble said.

The things parents have to worry about. But dealing with all of the issues surrounding the process of a junior golfer has allowed Bill and Diane to give their son a lot of opportunities, which is the desire of parents everywhere.

At 15 years old, it’s hard to know if Cody Gribble can fully appreciate all that has been sacrificed for his benefit. But at the very least he understands the path has not been easy.

“It’s definitely a lot of work and a lot of practice,” he said after dusting the field at Bellefonte. “There’s been some bad times and some good times. But it’s good right now.”

Gribble has already committed to the University of Texas despite being just a sophomore later this year. His future is bright because of his dedication to the game and the willingness of his family to invest in his future.

Gribble might be like many of the juniors who came to Bellefonte before him. He may very well go on to a successful golf career and some day play among the world’s best on the PGA Tour.

That is still a long way away, but regardless of his fortunes down the road it isn’t likely he’ll ever forget that his first AJGA victory came here, a place very special to us that might have become very special to him.

It is a landmark victory in what appears to be a very promising career. And there’s only one way to describe those no matter where you live.

They’re big.

RICK GREENE can be reached at rgreene@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

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