Medway High Golfers Aiming For Tournament Berth
Coach Jim Bruce is optimistic about his Medway High golf squad.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Jim Bruce is hoping his third year as head golf coach at Medway High will end with a berth in the state tournament.
The 50-year-old Bruce, who has an extensive background in golf, guided the Mustangs to a 6-4 record in 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, post-season tourneys were canceled. Last year, his squad finished 6-10, unable to qualify because it fell short of a .500 record.
The current team, which includes eight returnees, has experience, a solid nucleus and several other strengths.
“Our team chemistry and work ethic are excellent,’’ Bruce said. “I also like our competitive nature and our putting and chipping technique. Our kids play and practice at Maplegate Country Club in Bellingham and that course is a challenge. It forces players to know the hazards and it takes a lot of knowledge to play well there. It’s a championship style course.’’
Bruce knows how to teach golf and he knows the details needed for success. He played golf and baseball at Belmont High and he was a two-time assistant golf pro (Canton and Watertown) before becoming the head golf pro at Winthrop Golf Club.
“I was fulltime for 19 years as the head pro at Winthrop,’’ he said. “And I’ve been an active member of PGA of America for 24 years. As a member, I ran tournaments and taught PGA rules.’’
Bruce’s goals for the 2022 edition of the Mustangs incorporate a common-sense approach that emphasizes improvement. “We want to qualify for the state tourney and to achieve that objective means improving daily,’’ he noted. “It’s also imperative that we develop and help a large number of younger players.’’
Competing in the Tri Valley League isn’t a walk in the park, especially with teams that include Dover-Sherborn, Hopkinton, Medfield and Westwood.
At Local Town Pages deadline, the Mustangs were 0-3 but Bruce remained optimistic. The losses came against three competitive squads — Medfield, Norton and Norwood.
“We still have a chance of getting into the tourney,” Bruce said. “Our schedule is tough early on. Dover-Sherborn, Westwood, Hopkinton and Medfield are talented teams. Their players compete on junior tours and some of them will play golf in college. The scores that we’ve compiled early in the season will make us competitive against everyone left on our schedule. Our 262 score in the loss to Norwood was 10 strokes less than our score against Norton. That improvement bodes well for the future.’’
Bruce, who now works as a real estate agent, firmly believes his squad can qualify for post-season play because of three key attributes. “A solid work ethic is a must and the kids have to stay calm and positive,’’ he emphasized. “It’s also crucial to be competitive.’’
Medway’s captains — seniors Colin Roberts and Jackson Horan — embody the necessary ingredients that Bruce stresses for success. Roberts’ nine-hole average last year was 42 and Horan’s was 43.
“Colin is a two-time captain who’s in his fourth year of varsity play,’’ Bruce offered. “He leads by example, he’s consistent, has a strong work ethic and he’s coachable. His putting and chipping are assets and his demeanor on the course is like being an assistant coach. He often helps, guides and supports younger players.’’
Horan, now in his third varsity season, is adept at driving the ball. “Jackson hits long and solid,’’ Bruce said. “Driving is his No. 1 strength. He’s mentally tough, always in control and always positive. A good leader, he’s calm and maintains a steady attitude.’’
Sophomore Gavin Shipos, who averaged 45 for nine holes last year, is a second-year varsity player. “Gavin hits the ball accurately and solid,’’ said Bruce. “He’s got an athletic golf swing, which means it’s balanced and it’s smooth.’’
Another sophomore, Zach Nielsen, is a second-year varsity player who also averaged 45 for nine holes. “Zach’s top strengths are wedging and chipping,’’ Bruce noted. “He’s accurate in all phases of the game, he’s consistent and he keeps the ball in play.’’
Senior Jack Reynolds, who played jayvee golf last year, has now become an integral part of Bruce’s nucleus. “Jack is very effective chipping and putting,’’ Bruce said. “He’s accurate with his ball-striking. Jack’s very committed and dedicated in practice and he’s averaging 48 in his matches.’’
Junior Owen Spellman, who averaged 47 last year, is in his second year of varsity play. “Owen’s ball-striking is solid,’’ Bruce noted. “He has the ability to deliver a low score. He’s calm and he’s a top-notch teammate. His score of 40 against Medfield was the best in that match.’’
Relying on an athletic philosophy that focuses on reaching one’s potential and enjoying sports, Bruce says that “if those two situations are occurring, then winning will be the by-product.’’ He also admires golf because it teaches younger players valuable life lessons. “Overcoming adversity is a great life lesson that can be learned from golf,’’ he emphasized. “Every match has adversity. There’s always going to be a bad shot or a poor hole. Golf also helps teach discipline, leadership and how to be a good teammate. There are no referees in high school golf, so sportsmanship is another attribute that can be learned.’’
A native of Belmont, Bruce, who is married and has two children, earned his bachelor’s degree from Fitchburg State where he majored in business and finance.
As a real estate agent, Bruce often deals with numbers. On the golf course, he’s hoping to get favorable numbers — results that will end Medway’s tourney drought.