Penn-Trafford’s Yamrick could be next big name in local golf

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Monday, January 8, 2018 | 11:00 PM


If Penn-Trafford golfer Adam Yamrick's career ends the way it began, people in and around Westmoreland County will have plenty of stories to tell about the times they played against the him, and Yamrick almost certainly will be a rich man.

Yamrick was just trying to make a name for himself and make the Penn-Trafford golf team during tryouts on a cloudy August day going into his freshman year at Export's Manor Valley Golf Course. Yamrick had played the course hundreds of times since he first picked up the clubs at the tender age of 5. But on that day, Yamrick grabbed his 7-iron, stepped onto the tee box of the 183-yard par-3 No. 8 hole and drilled the ball out of sight and into the cup.

“The hole kind of runs off to the right and that day the pin was on the left, and I aimed just a little to the left (of the pin) and I didn't see it go in,” said Yamrick, now a sophomore. “The guy I was playing with looked into the hole and said, ‘Is this your ball?' The round that I played that was not good, but that was definitely a highlight.”

It was Yamrick's first hole-in-one and might not be his last.

Yamrick's career is on an upward trajectory. Yamrick, 15 of Penn Township, earned a trip to Florida in December, where he competed against 92 golfers in the 14-15-year-old division of the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour National Championship at the Omni Champion's Gate Resort. He shot an 82-83 in the two-day tourney that included some the country's top golfers.

“I saw kids that were shooting six-under-par for the day,” Yamrick said. “It was unbelievable how good those kids are. The top 20 kids were all from North Carolina, Georgia and from down there.”

The lanky 6-footer flew back to Pittsburgh with a little Florida sunburn but was inspired even more to work on his game, having finished 53rd in his first national tourney. Yamrick earned his early-December trip to Florida by shooting an 83-81 and finishing third at a Hurricane Junior Golf Tour tourney at Totteridge in late October.

“This kid has got it,” said Bob Policastro, who has been Yamrick's instructor since he was 8 years old. “He has the ‘it' (factor). Whatever ‘it' is, he has it.”

Policastro knows the “it” factor when he sees it. He helped coach Greensburg's own Rocco Mediate when Mediate was a fiery teenager trying to find his way in the world of golf. Policastro said he has seen kids come and go, but Yamrick has the ability to one of the best he's ever instructed.

“Adam has the athletic ability, No. 1, he has size, No. 2, and maybe more important than all of that, he has tremendous work ethic out of all of that,” Policastro said. “He's like Rocco in a lot of respects in that he's just driven, and he just wants it real bad. All I could say that If I ever had a son, I'd want him to be an Adam Yamrick. He's special, and he's going to make it.”

That's high praise coming from an instructor who has sent many kids off to college on scholarships, but Policastro didn't back down on his praise for Yamrick.

“I just told him that when ever you get ready for a scholarship, do what Rocco did and go where you can play instead of sitting on a bench,” Policastro said. “He's gonna be a college player, and I've did this for over 25 years. ( I told him), ‘I don't care if it's Division II, just play.' ”

Last fall, Yamrick helped lead the Warriors golf team to a second-place finish in Section 1-3A. He shot a season-best 82 at the WPIAL Class 3A team playoffs at Hookstown's Ponderosa Country Club, where Penn Trafford finished three strokes shy of moving onto the second round.

But like any sport, there's always something that can be learned and corrected, and Yamrick faces those challenges head on.

“(Rocco) had a temper, and this kid has got a (calm) demeanor about him,” Policastro said. “Adam's the same way. He just wants to be good, and he will be. (Heck), he's good already and the parents are very supportive.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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