By KEVIN HARRIS
Nick Cappola is focused on one goal during his final season as a member of the Clarksville High School boys’ golf team — reach the Providence Regional in June at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Memphis.
Cappola has been motivated to get another attempt at earning a regional berth since he nearly qualified for the Providence Regional last year. The senior fell just one stroke short of getting the coveted berth in the 2012 Providence Sectional at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg, shooting an 82.
Cappola gave a one-word response in describing how motivated he is in getting a ticket to regional this season.
“Very,” he said. “It’s my reason for playing the high school stuff this year. I’ve been playing in the Golfweek [Junior Tour] and the Junior PGA Series, and I could’ve done that instead this season. But I decided to take another shot at sectionals.
“I kind of lost my focus towards the end [of last year’s sectional]. I’ve been working on keeping my head a little more level this year.”
Clarksville coach and Nick’s father, Mark Cappola, says his son wants to advance to regional very badly.
“That’s his main goal,” said Mark Cappola, who is the head golf professional at Wooded View Golf Course in Clarksville. “He’s getting there. Golf has a lot of ups and downs, and you hope at sectional he’s on the upswing.”
Nick Cappola spent lots of time on the links during the offseason in order to get himself ready for this season. He played in several tournaments and had practice rounds that sometimes lasted 13 hours. During each of those practice rounds, he hit between 600-700 balls.
“I’ve been practicing really hard,” he said. “I think all it will take [to reach regional] is one good day. I’ve got all the potential I need. I’ve had spurts, but I just haven’t put it altogether yet. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, which is working hard, and hopefully I’ll be there by the end of the season.”
The younger Cappola dedicated a good portion of his offseason practice time on his short game, which he believes will be the determining factor on whether he collects some medalist honors this season and earns a regional berth.
“I spent a little more time working on my short game this summer. But I do work on all parts of my game,” he said. “I believe the short game is the most important part. That’s where tournaments are won.”
Nick, who has only played competitive golf for a couple of years, did not start this season the way he wanted to on March 30 in his return trip to Covered Bridge. He fired an 85 in the Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational. Nick struggled on the back nine with a 44, which included two triple bogeys. He will return to Covered Bridge later this year to play in the Providence Sectional.
His round in the Zoeller Invite was kind of puzzling to Nick after he recorded a pair of scores in the 70s in two recent rounds. He shot a 74 during a tournament at Cherry Blossom Golf and Country Club in Georgetown, Ky., and a 77 in another tourney at Champion Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
“It wasn’t my best showing,” he said about the Zoeller Invitational. “I’ve made a couple of swing adjustments since then, trying to get my game back together. I played a couple of tournaments before that, where I shot 74 and 77 and been a couple of shots off the lead. I haven’t been playing very long, so I’m still improving.”
Mark Cappola says he and his son have been working on a few things to try to get the Generals’ top player back on track.
“Right now, we’re working on some timing stuff and his full swing,” the Clarksville coach said. “We need to work a lot more on course management.”
Nick Cappola says his dad has been a great asset to his game, and he is happy to have him as his coach.
“He knows a lot. He’s a great teacher,” Nick said. “I’d rather have him as my coach than somebody who doesn’t know a lot about the game.”
Mark Cappola has enjoyed coaching Nick during his high school career.
“It’s been fun,” Mark said. “With the father-son relationship, it’s tough at times like any father-son relationship. I expect more out of him probably than any other student I work with. But his mom and myself try to stress to him that it’s not about shooting the lowest score all the time. It’s about how you conduct yourself, and I try to teach that to these other boys on our golf team.”
Nick Cappola has signed a national letter of intent to play NCAA Division I golf at Morehead State next season. He is looking forward to showing what he can do on the D-I level.
“I really like the campus. I like the coach [Dr. Rex Chaney] and I got to know a couple of the players,” Nick said. “I thought it would be fun to go there.”
Mark Cappola says his son has his work cut out to be a solid player on the D-I level.
“It’s going to be tough — there’s no doubt,” Mark Cappola said. “He’s got a lot of work to do this summer.”