Celebrating Fike High senior Bryson Boyette's NCHSAA 3-A boys golf championship Tuesday at Foxfire Resort in Foxfire Village were, from left, his mother, Melody Castelloe, Golden Demons golf coach Glenn Jones and Boyette's father, Lenny Boyette.
Tom Ham | Times
Fike High senior Bryson Boyette, studying a shot during the NCHSAA 3-A championship final round Tuesday at Foxfire Village, became the Golden Demons' second state champion when he claimed the title by two strokes. It was the culmination of years of work for Boyette.
Tom Ham | Times
By Tom Ham
Senior Staff Writer
Fike High senior Bryson Boyette’s performance earlier this week in winning the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A boys golf tournament’s individual championship just didn’t happen.
Call it a process.
Boyette, who has signed with Barton College, speaks at length about the process.
His father, Lenny Boyette, an accomplished golfer and certified golf professional, validates and amplifies the process.
“I had to trust the process and know something good would come out of it,” Boyette explained during a break from ever-continuing practice sessions Thursday. “It worked out pretty good.”
The result was the ultimate accomplishment for an NCHSAA golfer.
With a birdie on the final hole, No. 18, Boyette capped a sparkling round of 2-under-par 70 that crowned him the individual champion in the 85-player field by two shots with a score of 73-70—143, 1-under-par for 36 holes.
Boyette emerged from a tense duel with first-round leader Parker Chavis of South Rowan and Dalton Mauldin of Lee County as a two-shot victor. Chavis and Mauldin tied for second place.
After 16 holes, each member of the trio owned a share of the lead. On the No. 18 tee, Boyette and Mualdin each clung to a one-shot advantage against Chavis.
With the 70, Boyette tied for the tournament’s low round with two other golfers. Only Boyette posted a two-round score that matched or finished below par. He emerged the first state champion in the eight-year history of the Big East Conference and reigns as Fike’s first individual state champ since John-Tyler Griffin accomplished the feat in 2004.
That’s championship stuff.
One year following a disastrous opening round in his first 3-A state appearance, Boyette reigned as the division’s individual king. He revised his resume with his third accolade as the Big East Player of the Year and with his first East Regional title at Reedy Creek Golf Course earlier in the month.
A week later, his second trip to Foxfire Village and Resort would be filled with breathtaking memories.
“I can’t speak enough good about him,” expressed Fike coach Glenn Jones of his first state champion. “He’s so consistent and just pars everybody to death, He has grown up and matured, leaving him able to finish rounds so much better.”
Let’s not stray too far from the foundation.
The process began Boyette’s freshman year at Fike. The objective, in Boyette’s words: “To be the best I could be.”
He advanced from good to better to the best in the NCHSAA 3-A ranks in 2017.
The preparation routine became rigid. Almost without fail, Boyette spent much of his time at Happy Valley Country Club — on the course, on the practice range or on the putting green. Often, he was joined by his younger brother, Ethan, in heeding their father’s instruction.
Just as constant was his stoic demeanor, even temperament and unchanging expression.
The senior year approached with Bryson Boyette becoming slightly more deliberate because of a shot-to-shot routine that didn’t waver.
But early this season, he complained that rounds of 74, 75, 76, etc., were not the expected rewards to justify the sacrifice.
The turnaround occurred at Willow Springs Country Club in the fifth of six conference matches — when Boyette fired a 3-under-par 68.
Then came a 2-under 70 in a high school tournament at Wedgewood Public Golf Course, a 3-under 69 in the final conference match at Belmont Lakes Golf Club near Rocky Mount, a 1-over 73 in the Wilson County Championship at Wilson Country Club, an even-par 72 in winning the 3-A East Regional at Reedy Creek Golf Course and rounds of 1-over 73 and 2-under 70 earlier this week in the state tournament on the Red Fox Course at Foxfire Village and Resort.
Boyette played his final seven rounds at a staggering 8-under-par. That’s championship stuff.
Yet, he fretted about the pitfalls of the one-day regional tournament. One bad hole and his championship dreams could be shattered.
His father responded: “You are one of the best players in the state. Go out and play.”
Said Bryson Boyette: “I took it and ran with it.”
Also boosting expectations was lowering the loft of his driver head from 10 1/2 to 9 1/2 degrees some two months ago. The result was an average of 10 additional yards per drive. Spectators can attest Boyette was anything but the “short knocker” in the premier threesome in Tuesday’s final round of the state tournament.
THE PROCESS HELPS
But down the stretch, he had to call upon the process when iron shots strayed on Nos. 16 and 17, producing a bogey and a scrambling par.
“I knew I had hit the ball pretty good,” Boyette reasoned, “and I knew I had put in the work. I needed to trust the process and go along with it. I tried to stay calm and stay in the moment. You get into the zone, see the flagstick and hit your shot.”
On No. 18, the result was the most spectacular shot of Boyette’s life — a 6-iron from 170 yards away with the golf ball landing some six feet behind the flag. The state individual championship was sealed.
However, Boyette insists he believed he could claim individual supremacy before he hit his first tee shot Monday morning.
Jones liked what he witnessed Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
“With the way he felt (Monday) night and (Tuesday morning), if he played to his capability, I knew he could win it,” Jones declared.
Boyette’s ball-striking was pure on the range in warming for the final round.
Said Jones: “I finally told him: ‘Let’s go to the putting green. You’ve hit enough great shots out here.’ “
Thus, Boyette’s father and numerous others were left “extremely proud.”
“Because of the hard work he has put into it over the years,” Lenny Boyette explained. “It’s great to see him rewarded and to know that all the hard work has paid off.
“He has finally learned to play the game and there’s so much to learn about it. I’m proud that golf has turned him into a fine young man and taught him a lot of life’s values.”
But how about his son’s status as one of the best young players in the state?
“I like to call him my late bloomer,” Lenny Boyette responded. “He has definitely stepped himself up. He’s proven he deserves to be in those conversations. Today, (the process) paid off. He has proven himself.”
Maybe winning a state title merited a day away from the course. Or would Bryson Boyette practice?
“You know it,” he said of the latter. “There’s no reason to stop now.”
Thus, Boyette, joined by Mauldin, will represent the East elite against the West in the second Tar Heel Cup scheduled for May 19-21 at River Landing Golf Course near Wallace.