As Bryan senior golfer Case Hartman approached the green on the final hole of his high school career, he carried with him the memories and experiences from a decorated four years. The two-day Division II state tournament at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury didn’t go Hartman’s way, as he “played himself out of it” with a first-day 85 and was approaching his last hole of the day at 14-over par.
Still, Hartman knew he needed to go out with a bang. After putting a nine-iron to eight feet from the hole, he saw his opportunity.
“I hadn’t hit a putt all day,” Hartman said. “But I knew it was going in.”
It did, and Hartman recorded a birdie on his last-ever hole of high school golf to give him a pair of 85s over the two days of the tournament, good for a tie for 38th. Hartman’s trip to the state tournament this year adds to a lengthy list of accomplishments over his career, supplemented now by being named The Bryan Times Golfer of the Year, the second time he has accomplished that feat.
“The goal at the beginning of this season was to try to get to state and compete there,” Hartman said. “I kind of knocked myself out of it the first day, but I just focused in and tried to play my game. I couldn’t get it going, but to finish off with a birdie was a great way to cap off my career.”
Hartman dominated throughout his entire senior season, picking up an average of 36.4 in nine-hole league matches and an average of 76.4 in 18-hole tournaments. But Bryan coach Tyler Bernath says Hartman showed signs of greatness from the beginning.
“The leadership he gave our team was tremendous, and that leadership started when he was a freshman,” Bernath said. “He had a great knowledge of the game then, and he never stopped learning and improving from there. Any time you get a kid like that, it’s always a privilege and a blessing.”
Other than physical growth — he estimates his drives now are about 100 yards longer than they were when he was a freshman — Hartman said the most important aspect of his development as a golfer has been mental. When Hartman got disqualified from a match earlier this season for signing an incorrect scorecard, he tried not to let it get to him, but rather to use it as a learning experience.
“Usually, I have a number in my head that I try to shoot, and I don’t let a bogey or a double-bogey waver me off of that,” Hartman said. “I know I can get it back with a par-5 or a birdie somewhere else.”
And even though he’s a quiet kid who generally keeps his emotions in check, leading his younger teammates as the team’s only senior was something Hartman didn’t take lightly.
“I think I’m a guy who’s cool under pressure,” Hartman said. “So when some of the younger guys are freaking out about their first tournament or sectionals, I just tried to calm them down. The league championship was big. We knew going in that we could win it, but if emotions got high, we could struggle. But I tried to talk them through it. If you have a bad hole, you can’t let it affect you.”
After high school, Hartman plans on attending Ohio State University. And while he doesn’t plan on competing in collegiate golf, he hasn’t ruled out joining a club team. Either way, he’ll take the lessons from playing high school golf with him throughout a lifetime.
“Golf taught me how to be a competitor and to just be a good person,” Hartman said. “Just talking to people and getting to know them, that’s going to be a good life skill for meeting new people. It taught me to grow.”