Hempfield golfer attacking greens, chemo
By the end of his senior golf season, Hempfield's Javon Trout said he hopes he'll be holding a big trophy.
The 18-year-old has been refining his golf palate this summer, playing courses across Western Pennsylvania as a part of the Tri-State PGA Kings Junior Golf Series. Trout played in nine events this summer, winning two and tying for first in a third to force a playoff. He won the club championship at the course he frequents most, Hannastown Golf Club, making him the youngest player to do so.
“I think playing difficult courses and getting to know different courses and different greens is going to help me win this year,” said Trout, who finished eighth at the WPIAL Class AAA championship last October and fourth at the PIAA Western Regional to earn a spot in the state tournament, where he placed 18th.
Trout was 3 years old when picked up a golf club in the basement of his grandparents's home.
“I guess I tried to start swinging my pap's clubs, and he was like, ‘Oh, I think I need to get him started,' ” said Trout, whose Hempfield team and others around the WPIAL will begin regular-season match play Thursday.
He started playing golf competitively at age 5, and also picked up a knack for bowling at Hillview Lanes and Main Bowling Center in Greensburg. After plenty of close calls, he bowled his first perfect game at Main in 2010, making him the youngest to accomplish the feat at that alley. His abilities in both sports are “God's gifts,” he said, and crafts he said he always will work to improve.
Trout has continued to compete and grow, even in the face of tremendous adversity.
Trout was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, for which he has received treatment over the years. He said his current round of chemotherapy, which began around Halloween, will run until Christmas, well beyond the conclusion of his final golf season at Hempfield.
But he hasn't let that stop him. In March, Trout won Pennsylvania's high school bowling individual state title while experiencing double vision, a side effect from his chemotherapy.
“My whole family, we're very strong-willed people, and they've helped me get through everything,” Trout said. “They're always there to keep me strong and keep me fighting like a champ.”
The golf course recently has become a place where Trout said he doesn't have to fight. He considers the grass “a whole different world” to think about the game he loves, to let his mind go blank and to focus on getting the ball in the cup.
In addition to playing a more mentally focused, relaxed brand of golf, Trout has been working on his short game. It's an area in which Hempfield golf coach Brian Spang said the senior has made big strides.
“His putting is what he's been focused on for the last two or three years, and he's been able to adapt faster than most,” Spang said. “He's had the ability to and the knowledge to adapt to the different courses he's played, and I think it might be his strength.”
Having finally found a putter he's comfortable with, Trout said he's ready for his senior season and, most importantly, he's having fun.
He said he has received interest from Washington & Jefferson as well as PSAC schools like IUP and Cal (Pa.). Wherever he goes, Trout said he wants to study engineering, probably mechanical.
In a college environment where golf is more universal, bowling might soon become more of a hobby, but he won't give it up. He tends not to do that.
“I just never want to give up. Even now that I'm on chemo, I don't want to stop being a kid. That's never going to stop me,” Trout said. “You just have to live every day to its full potential. If you get a bump in the road, just run it over.”
Trout's chief competition this season could be Central Catholic's Nick Cuny and Allderdice's Sasha Lobel, who also return for their senior seasons after finishing sixth and seventh, respectively, at the WPIAL Class AAA championships last year.
In Class AA, Cody Dobbin of Burgettstown looks to best a third-place finish in the WPIAL from a year ago.
On the girls' side, Canon McMillan's Lauren Waller hopes for a repeat performance from her first-place PIAA finish in 2013, while Seton-LaSalle's Joey Walz returns for her senior season after taking second place at the PIAA Class AA finals last year.
Andrew Erickson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.