Golf game accelerating quickly for Southmoreland’s Goehring

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021 | 10:37 AM


Tinkering is a big part of Austin Goehring’s life, whether it be on the golf course or in the garage.

Goehring is a senior on the Southmoreland boys golf team and has made tremendous strides in his game in an extraordinarily short amount of time.

Last season, he averaged a 9-hole score of 42 and shot a 102 in the WPIAL Class AA boys individual championships last fall, finishing 40th overall.

“I struggled off the tee a little bit,” Goehring said. “Through the season it got a little better, but when winter came around I fell back a little bit. And then I worked really hard this past summer to get my tee shots better, and that’s been a big game changer for me.”

Goehring is averaging a score of 37 over 9 holes and has an 18-hole handicap at 3 1/2.

“Right now, Austin is beating me,” said Southmoreland coach Drew Ledbetter, who often plays rounds with Goehring in the summer. “I can hang with him for about two or three strokes.”

What makes Goehring’s improvement so stunning is he is still relatively new to golf.

“This is only his second full year playing golf,” Ledbetter said. “He didn’t come out (for the team) until he was a junior. And last year he made the team as the No. 3 guy. This year, he’s hands down my No. 1 and one of the top two or three (players) in the section.”

After deciding to give up a 10-year youth hockey career with Connellsville and multiple travel teams, Goehring decided to pick up the clubs in May 2020, when covid-19 shut down numerous other sports, including hockey. He hasn’t looked back.

“I don’t miss (hockey) a single bit,” he said.

Last year, Goehring finished fifth in the Section 2-AA competition, shooting 84 at Norvelt Golf Club. But those types of numbers started shrinking this summer.

“I played six, seven days per week,” he said. “I participated in 15 individual tournaments this year.”

Goehring impressed in those tournaments, including his first victory among two top-10 finishes, four top-fives and a pair of top-threes. The win came via a 73 on the Junior Isaly’s Tour at Youghiogheny Country Club.

He and his coach cite his calm demeanor on the course as the biggest reason why his stroke totals have decreased.

“My dad’s helped me a lot with learning how to control it,” said Goehring, who admires PGA standout Justin Thomas’ mental approach. “When I’m out there, I’m just playing golf. I just let everything else take care of itself and let God take care of it.”

“His mental game is the best attribute that he has,” Ledbetter added. “Even when he hits bad shots, he knows how to put himself back into play, and he knows how to manage the golf course really well.”

Focus also is key for Goehring. He is a car enthusiast and loves working on his 2014 Mercedes C-300.

“I’ve always liked working with cars,” said Goehring, who wants to golf and study mechanical engineering and business in college. “Mainly I just liked doing cosmetic stuff and building your own design for a car. I never liked working on the engine until I got a car. Once I got one, that kind of sparked up a little bit.”

While his future plans are unsettled, Goehring is hoping to turn his successful summer into a strong year with the Scotties and elsewhere.

“I’m playing to win on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour this winter and spring,” he said. “But my next goal is to win states and get my (nine-hole) scoring average to around 35 or 36.”

But, ultimately, he wants to inspire his teammates. His mature outlook — which seems to aid his advanced mental game — has shown him what golf can mean to young people.

“It’s really important to help the younger kids get on the right path in their life and not get steered away into the wrong things that life can bring,” he said. “I think it’s important to help them, because they are the future of Southmoreland.”

His coach couldn’t be more proud of that mindset and the impact Goehring has had on a young Scotties team, which includes three freshmen and two sophomores who never have played golf before.

“From Day 1, from him and I playing in the summer, he’s taken over that (leadership) role,” Ledbetter said. “All of the kids seem to respond to him. He’s like my player-coach on the golf course.”

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