PIONEER — For as long as he could remember, even back when he was a toddler carrying around a set of plastic clubs, Chace Boothman could tell the game of golf would be a major part of his life forever.
“Immediately, once I actually got a set of clubs and figured out what the heck I was doing, I knew I fell in love with the game,” Chace says. “I knew I wanted to play it in high school. I wanted to play as long as I can.”
He knew he wasn’t going to be able to do it alone, though.
“My dad was definitely my biggest supporter in that, plus my mom and all my other family members and friends,” Chace recalls. “They encouraged it. I guess they saw my potential talent in it and how much I enjoyed it.”
North Central coach Eric Smeltzer says Chace’s talent was easily recognizable early on, but the senior doesn’t coast by on ability alone. Chace says he and his father, Joel Boothman, both spend “hours on end” together in the yard, fine-tuning his swing.
“His dad was a good golfer and knows a lot about golf,” Smeltzer says. “Even from his seventh-grade year, you could tell he was going to be good. All the time they put in — he doesn’t seem to go through those struggles where his swing is way off. The time and effort he’s put into it, he consistently gets a little bit better each year I’ve seen him.”
The Boothmans have a unique back-and-forth. Golf is different from most high school sports. With other fall sports like volleyball or football, athletes can usually tune out their parents’ suggestions from the bleachers. In golf, parents can walk the entire course with their kids, giving as much or as little encouragement as they desire.
This might add an extra sense of pressure to a high schooler’s round during a match, but for Chace, having his dad around gives him a boost.
“They’re not all great experiences when you’re practicing golf, so over the years, we’ve just gotten to understand each other on what swing thoughts and encouragement works best for me,” Chace said. “We always know there’s room for improvement, but it’s always positivity after the matches. It’s like, ‘Let’s work on this, so you can get there in the future.’”
Everything seemingly came together for Chace during the Division III boys sectional golf tournament at Ironwood Golf Course in Wauseon on Sept. 26. Chace managed the course all day, finishing with an 80 after lipping out a putt on the 18th green. Despite narrowly missing a round in the 70s, Chace kept a level head.
“The level-headedness and positive attitude is definitely one of the biggest keys in golf to maintaining some consistency,” Chace says. “Keep the game of golf fun and enjoyable. It’s not just a job.”
Chace’s 80 was North Central’s lowest round on the day. As a team, the Eagles shot 337, tied with Fayette for the best score of the tournament. Fayette won first place after its fifth golfer’s score was lower than North Central’s fifth golfer’s. But even as Chace was finishing his round and keeping an eye on the scoreboard, Smeltzer noticed he was occupied checking with his teammates to see how their days went.
“He’s always wanting to know his teammates’ scores when they come in,” Smeltzer says. “He wants to be medalist every match, but he’s also worried about, when our kids come in, he wants to know how everyone did. He can be very helpful. He has a lot of knowledge and tries to help his teammates out when he can.”
For Chace, golf is going to be a part of his life for a long time. He plans to play in college, having fielded some calls from collegiate coaches, without making any concrete decisions yet. But even as his high school career came to an end at the district tournament in Bowling Green last Thursday on an especially tough day on the course, Chace wants to keep the game he loves in perspective.
“Sometimes my mental game and not enjoying the game as much as I should is a problem,” Chace says. “When I struggle is when I’m not smiling and not talking to my opponents and not having fun. That’s the biggest thing. I have the talent, but I need to make sure the game is still fun, even on my off days.”