| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Local golf notebook: Fox Chapel sophomore learning from 1 of the best

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Scott Brown
Sunday, March 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

It may seem strange to say that attending an academy named for one of golf's most renowned teachers is a leap of faith.

But that is exactly what David Rice did when he left Fox Chapel Area High School to spend the rest of his sophomore year at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, S.C.

Rice has been immersed in golf instruction since early January, and one of the most important lessons learned has been the value of patience. He has needed it — as well as perseverance — since he and his fellow classmates had their swings dismantled and rebuilt by the academy instructors.

“Whenever we visited (last November), they told us, ‘You're going to get a lot worse before you get better here,' ” said Rice, 16. “The coaches know what they're doing, and you just have to trust that they know what they're doing.”

Rice, who helped Fox Chapel win a section title in the fall, said his swing was a “mess” after it was reconstructed. Progress has come over the past two months, he said, and he has had ample opportunity to work on his swing and other parts of his game.

Students spend their mornings in class, but afternoons are devoted to golf instruction. That is followed by an hour of weight training. Weekdays are nothing if not regimented, but Rice is hardly complaining.

Haney, who worked with Tiger Woods when the latter dominated golf like few others, provides personal instruction to all of the students several times during the semester. Rice already has played the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., as part of the tournament circuit that is part of the curriculum.

The track was the site of the 2012 PGA Championship, and the challenges it posed reminded Rice of why he enrolled at the academy.

“The big part was just to improve my game and take it to the next level so that I could hopefully play college golf,” said Rice, who plays to a 10 to 12 handicap. “It's just a neat thing to do, something different.”

Looking ahead

The Senior Players Championship returns to Fox Chapel Golf Club in late June, and there are several reasons to believe it will build on the success it enjoyed last year.

None is bigger than the presence of Rocco Mediate, who would love nothing more than to return to his native Western Pennsylvania and win a major on one of his favorite courses.

“I talk about Fox Chapel more than I talk about any other course up there,” Mediate said. “I love Laurel Valley, but Fox Chapel and Allegheny (Country Club) are the top two golf courses in Western Pennsylvania. Period.”

Mediate, 50, is in his first season on the Champions Tour. He won his inaugural tournament and finished fifth in the other event he has played.

His early play has Mediate poised for a big season, and the crowds he is expected to draw in the Senior Players will swell if the Greensburg native is in contention.

“I'm looking forward to that, for sure,” Mediate said of the tournament that runs from June 27-30. “Plus it's home.”

Chip shots

Tom Tokarski of Butler's Golf Course has been honored as 2012 Superintendent of the Year by Billy Casper Golf. Tokarski was chosen from more than 140 candidates and received the award during a recent Billy Casper Golf conference in Tampa, Fla. ... Butler Country Club will host a U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifier May 13. The event is 36 holes, and registration information can be found at

Scott Brown covers golf for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter at ScottBrown_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
  2. Van Halen plays plenty of favorites in First Niagara show
  3. N. Belle Vernon man jailed after police station visit
  4. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  5. Golf outing wraps up successful Invitational
  6. U.S. Steel posts quarterly loss, declares dividend
  7. School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
  8. Pregnant woman killed by gunfire in Brighton Heights, other shootings reported in city
  9. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  10. Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
  11. Summer youth program in Donora bridges gap between young, old