Prep Golf: Danville's J.B. Williams focusing all his energy on golf now
From giving up other sports to overhauling his golf swing to playing tournaments at a time when most players¿ clubs are in the closet, J.B. Williams has made a commitment to golf by making a series of moves over the last year or so that could change the rest of his life. (Mike Marsee / July 1, 2012)
From giving up other sports to overhauling his golf swing to playing tournaments at a time when most players’ clubs are in the closet, Williams has made a commitment to golf by making a series of moves over the last year or so that could change the rest of his life.
He couldn’t be happier with the results so far, as he has been rewarded with a run of success capped by a recent victory that punched his ticket to one of the biggest junior tournaments in the country.
And he can’t wait to see what lies ahead in the rest of his summer schedule, in his senior season at Danville and beyond after throwing himself into golf as never before.
“I kind of saw that point in my life, in my high school career, between my sophomore and junior year,” Williams said. “I knew that a year from (then) I’d have a year left, and I need to start working now so I’d be a lot better and have a chance to do bigger things.”
Williams has already done some big things this year, beginning in May when he won the Plantations Junior Golf Tour player of the year award in his division.
“That kick-started my summer, really,” he said. “Winning the player of the year showed me that I can hang with anybody, since it’s more of a national tour. ... It showed me that I can get on the national stage and play well. I want to have more awards like that at the end of the day. That’s what I play for and what others play for, so it gets me going for sure.”
And just last week, he won the Kentucky section of the Junior PGA Championship to qualify for the national tournament later this summer.
“It just moved me on to one of the junior majors. I was just so relieved after I won there. to get in such a prestigious event, it was really relieving,” he said.
Williams has done a number of things to put himself in this position, but two choices stand out: the decision just over a year ago to give up baseball in order to concentrate on golf, and the decision early this year to rebuild his swing.
Williams was a decent baseball player who was getting playing time as a sophomore, but it was soon after the 2011 season ended that he made the difficult call to give up that game.
He had finished second in Danville’s golf regional early in that school year, and he said that opened his eyes to what might be possible if he applied himself further in golf.
“I knew after finishing second in the region my sophomore year that I could be really good at this, and I started thinking about whether I wanted to keep playing baseball after that happened. And then I decided pretty soon after we got bounced out of the region my sophomore year that I wasn’t going to play baseball my junior year, and so far that’s been a solid decision for me,” he said.
Not an easy one, however.
“I’ve missed it terribly. I knew that I would miss it when I hung up the cleats. I miss the team aspect more than anything,” Williams said. “I’m happy that I made the decision, because it just had to happen for me to play in the spring tournaments and the early summer ones that I would not be able to do with baseball. It was a thing that had to happen if I wanted to go to college and play golf.”
Things weren’t going so well for Williams in February when he and Danville Country Club professional John Mesplay decided to make drastic changes in his swing.
“We changed the plane of my swing. I was really down in the dumps and not swinging well, so we totally changed the path that I take the club on,” Williams said. “It was a huge change. It was definitely scary going into it. I was skeptical at first like many people are, but I knew with time that results would show. I have faith in John that he’d take me in the right direction, and it’s paid out so far. We’re hoping that it’ll keep giving me good results.”
He first saw the swing change start to pay dividends in March in a PJGT event at Cherry Blossom at Georgetown. He didn’t win, but he played well enough to convince him he was on the right track.
“If I had just done awful there, then we wouldn’t have done all these changes that needed to happen,” he said.