Competition Spurs On Martins
About three weeks ago, Josh Martin went into the final two holes of the AJGA Exide Technologies Junior Open in Johns Creek, Ga., with victory seemingly within his grasp. That was before his tee shot on the par 3 17th hole found a bunker.
Josh, a freshman, and his brother Zach, a junior, are members of the Pinecrest golf team that won its sixth regional title in a row at River Ridge Golf Club in Clayton on Monday. Both have been competing in golf tournaments since a young age with much success.
Josh currently holds the No. 2 spot in the Polo Golf Junior Rankings for the class of 2015. Polo ranks him 43rd among all juniors and Golfweek.com has him at No. 45 — first among players from North Carolina.
“It was buried and we couldn’t find it at first,” Josh said of the bunker dilemma the next day on the putting green before a high school match at National Golf Club. “It was at the top lip of the bunker and we kind of had to brush away the sand. The first time I missed the ball. The second time I got out.”
The eventual triple bogey 6 was costly as he went on to finish second in the event, one stroke in back of the winner.
“There really wasn’t anything you could do about it,” he said. “You try not to get upset because it’s isn’t something you could control.”
Josh Martin shook off the disappointment and a long Sunday of golf and travel to shoot a 5-under-par 67 in the conference match at National. Zach, the co-conference golfer of the year as a freshman came in with a 2-under 70. Two weeks later at No. 5, Josh posted a 7-under 65 and Zach shot a 3-under 69 as the Patriots finished with an 18-under team score of 270 in the final conference match of the season.
A Wall Street Journal article from October 2008 told the story of Bowie and Julie Martin’s move from Wilson to Pinehurst to give their sons the best opportunity to develop their talents in the game of golf. Both played a variety of other sports before deciding to specialize.
“The Martin family’s single-minded pursuit has produced perhaps the two best young golfers living under the same roof anywhere,” the WSJ author wrote.
A day before Josh left for Georgia, Bowie Martin dropped his sons off at Pinehurst No. 7 to work on less than full swing shots. Because of the heavy high school schedule, both are playing in only two weekend tournaments in the spring.
“If I could go back and redo it,” Bowie Martin says, “there would probably be more variety and they would play a variety of sports longer. I think we focused on golf too long.”
In spite of all of the emphasis on golf, both are carrying over 4.0 weighted GPAs.
“They take their academics very seriously and they do that on their own,” Bowie Martin says. “They’ve always worked hard on school and golf.The high school season gives them time to bond. The team is a real tight-knit group.”
Zach Martin, a left-hander, is looking at UNC Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro as college choices down the road. Josh began getting letters from colleges after winning an AJGA event in Kentucky while in seventh grade at West Pine Middle School.
“I want to play Division I golf,” Zach says. “If I can’t make it on tour, I’d like to work as a golf professional like John (Pinecrest coach Azzarelli) is here at Pinehurst.”
The brothers both think they benefit from the sibling rivalry.
“I’d say we’re pretty good friends because we’re only two years apart,” Zach says. “We go to the same school and share a lot of common experiences. I support my brother even though there is a little competition in there. I think the competition helps us improve each other’s games.”
Josh says: “It’s good to practice with him. He pushes me. It helps me get better to want to beat him.”
Pinehurst professional and Pinecrest graduate Kelly Mitchum coaches several of the Patriot golfers, including the Martins. He describes them as two totally different young men in the way they approach things.
“Hopefully Josh will use it as a blessing in disguise and learn from it,” Mitchum said of the experience at the AJGA tournament in Georgia. “Josh is pretty mentally tough so I don’t see him having any trouble bouncing back.
“He’s got the complete game. We’ve been working hard lately on his driving accuracy, but his short game is phenomenal.”
“Zach hits a lot of really solid shots. He had a lot of success real young and kind of went through a stage where in golf you can lose a little confidence in what you are doing. He really seems to be getting it back now.”
Doug Thompson, the father of teammate Nick Thompson, and director of golf at Southern Pines Golf Club has played with most of the players on the team, including the Martins.
“Their father has entered them in so many tournaments that they’re tournament tested,” he says. “I played with Josh the other day and he thinks like a tournament player. He’s not going to hit it to the short side. He looks at a hole and pulls out a 3-wood. You can only get that by playing in tournaments.”
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