BISMARCK — It’s not often that a golfer enters the clubhouse, after putting out on No. 18, and announces, “I had one bad shot today.”
Such an occurrence is about as common as a baseball pitcher throwing a perfect game. In the World Series. In Game 7. At home.
One bad shot in golf is the mental aggravation and distraction that frequently compounds itself into another. And another. Then, a series of them.
As the person relaxes in the clubhouse, the common refrain is, “I left a half-dozen shots on the course today.”
Bismarck-Henning’s Andy Bott knows those feelings. Well.
The introductions were made years ago.
The first person to earn Area Golfer of the Year honors three consecutive years had those thoughts after a lifetime-best 61 this fall at Harrison Park.
Bott was frustrated about a bogey on No. 2 and not securing a birdie on No. 15.
“If I would have capitalized on those two things, I would have shot a 59,” he said.
And yet, Bott recognizes — and appreciates — his 61 would have been higher in years past.
“One thing golf has taught me is that one bad thing that happens can bring a person down,” Bott said. “During my best rounds, there has always been a time I had a bad shot or hole.
“It’s how a person reacts to their bad circumstances that determines how much they will succeed. It has taught me I can’t let something bad that has happened bring me down because there is always something positive that comes from a person not giving up.”
Bott has been surrounded by plenty of advisers and coaches emphasizing the importance of not losing the mental focus as well as retaining composure. His dad, Kirk, made the point. So did B-H coach Terry French, former Area Player of the Year Michael Davan — who is also an alum of B-H — along with Ryan Moore and Neil Moore from Danville Country Club.
They all helped an athlete who is now 6-foot-5 grow as a person and as a player.
A three-time IHSA top 10 state placer, Bott understands he didn’t reach the pinnacle alone.
“Before I came into high school, I had the game to compete with good players, but I didn’t have the mental game to compete with great players,” Bott said.
“Over my four years, I have really developed my mental game, such as how I approach tournaments and handle pressure. There are so many people who have contributed to teaching me how to handle myself under pressure. I am very thankful for all of the people who have supported me through the growth in my game. I couldn’t have grown into the golfer and person I am today without all the people who have taught me so many things.”
Bott hopes to major in business and play golf in college next year. He hasn’t finalized a destination but is considering Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
A love for the game
In his preteen years, Bott participated in baseball, basketball, swimming and tennis, in addition to golf.
“My dad wanted me to try all the sports and pick the one I liked best,” Bott said. “I didn’t choose golf as a primary sport until my freshman year.
“I was an average golfer when I started, but the reason I stuck with it is because I really began to love the game and I proved to myself I could keep getting better and better.”
He challenged himself, in all of the endeavors, by playing beyond his peer group.
“I enjoyed playing against older kids in all of my sports,” Bott said. “It gave me more satisfaction when I beat them. And in golf, I began to beat older kids more and more often, so it pushed me to keep getting better.”
Even if he didn’t come out on top, the experience of competing against older and more skilled players was beneficial.
“I learn more by playing against top players because I can see how they play and try to add some of their ways to my game,” Bott said. “I have been very lucky to play with such intelligent golfers in this area. They have been helpful to the growth of my game.”
Bott retained interest in the other activities he tried but only continued with basketball for the Blue Devils. Players who can dunk are in high demand.
“It really isn’t hard to find time to devote my time to each sport,” Bott said. “I don’t really forget my mechanics in my swing, and it doesn’t stay rusty that long when I spend a lot of time practicing after basketball.
“I don’t practice my golf in the winter unless we go on vacation.”
A work in progress
Some might view Bott as an accomplished golfer. He considers himself as a work in progress. It comes back to the same area in which he continually seeks improvement.
“The mental aspect is the most important thing in golf,” Bott said. “It affects the whole game, like determining how hard I practice, how much I prepare for a tournament and how I handle myself on the course under pressure.
“There are many really good golfers out there, but it’s those golfers who control their mental games that win tournaments and succeed. It will always be something I continue to work on.”
Bott also devotes considerable time to driving accuracy and power. Shots off the tee are his favorite, he said, “because it affects my score if I don’t drive well. Whenever I hit a huge drive, it is one of those really good feelings, like dunking a basketball.”
Golf practice, for Bott, is not equated to working.
“Golf is very important to me and ranks high on my list of interests and passions,” he said. “It has so many good times and memories associated with it. It is my favorite thing to do.”
Getting to know Andy Bott
Why he’s Player of the Year: Medalist in Class 1A regional and sectional tournaments and tied for sixth at state, with a 162 for 36 holes. He becomes the first area athlete to be the golfer of the year for three consecutive seasons.
Season highlights: Shooting a school-record 61 at the Vermilion Valley Conference meet, at Harrison Park, Danville, on a day he lost a shot on the first hole by bogeying it. For 33 nine-hole rounds this season, averaged an area-best 37.1 strokes.
A few of my favorites: Pizza ... Last text to Austin Toler ... 2003 BMW 525i ... English ... Luke Bryan, Drake or John Mayer ... Dustin Johnson ... Toughest course, Mistwood Country Club ... Role model, my dad ... First job was at Danville Country Club ... Bismarck-Henning is a very good high school for academics and athletics.
About Bott: “Andy has been a great example and leader for our team. He is always very respectful to his competitors, and coaches often tell me how their players enjoy it when Andy is in their group. He is a great example of what we are trying to teach our team on and off the course about respect and how to handle yourself to prepare for life.” — B-H head coach Terry French
Boys’ Players of the Year
2013 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2012 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2011 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2010 Seth Trolia Mahomet-Seymour
2009 David Keenan Salt Fork
2008 Ryan Murphy St. Thomas More
2007 Joe Smith Centennial
2006 Michael Davan Bismarck-Henning
2005 Joe Smith Centennial
2004 Joe Smith Centennial
Boys’ Coaches of the Year
2013 Mark Tate St. Thomas More
2012 Terry French Bismarck-Henning
2011 Mike Wallner Centennial
Final N-G Top 10
1. St. Thomas More Two seniors among team’s top six
2. Bismarck-Henning Two seniors among team’s top six
3. Centennial No seniors among team’s top six
4. Mahomet-Seymour Two seniors among team’s top six
5. Champaign Central Two seniors among team’s top six
6. Tuscola Two seniors among team’s top six
7. Rantoul/PBL One senior among team’s top six
8. Urbana Two seniors among team’s top six
9. Blue Ridge Six seniors among team’s top six
10. Monticello One senior among team’s top six
All-Area Honorable Mention
NAME SCHOOL YR.
Cody Bauman Rantoul Jr.
Brendan Black Judah Christian Jr.
Mike Braverman Centennial Jr.
Gunnar Campbell Tuscola Jr.
Noah Campbell Bismarck-Henning Jr.
Ben Carnahan Champaign Central Fr.
Drew Coyne Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Jesse Dankle St. Thomas More Sr.
J.T. Donahue Urbana Sr.
Alex Duffy Prairie Central So.
Will Duggins Blue Ridge Sr.
Eddie Durham Tuscola Sr.
Tyler Erhard Judah Christian So.
Clark Fink Iroquois West Sr.
Garrett Grimsley St. Joseph-Ogden So.
Burl Gillespie Watseka Jr.
Logan Hannon Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Mitchell Hockman Mahomet-Seymour Jr.
Shane Irby Cissna Park Sr.
Cory Jayne Blue Ridge So.
Ben Khachaturian Centennial Jr.
Christian Khachaturian Centennial Jr.
Hayden Kile Shiloh Jr.
Wes Kramer St. Thomas More Jr.
Clay Mallory Prairie Central Jr.
David Manselle Tuscola Jr.
Alex Marcusiu Mahomet-Seymour Jr.
Austin Merritt Chrisman Sr.
Clayton Miller Arcola/Arthur-Lovington Fr.
Bryce Nowak Prairie Central Sr.
Isaac Overman Centennial Jr.
Zach Paragi Mahomet-Seymour So.
Mason Potts Blue Ridge Jr.
John Rodawig Centennial Jr.
Devyn Roesch Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Jr.
Brandon Rowe Oakwood Fr.
Cole Sanford Salt Fork Sr.
Wyatt Small Centennial So.
Christopher Tate St. Thomas More Jr.
Riley Thompson Champaign Central Sr.
Tristyn Trosper Hoopeston Area Jr.
Tyler Vodacek St. Thomas More So.
Jarrett Wallace Tuscola Jr.
David Warren Bismarck-Henning Jr.
Adrian Wells Mahomet-Seymour So.
Kameron Wilken Iroquois West So.