Some decisions are easier than others.
For Green Ridge’s Peyton Needy, selecting a college to attend is hard. Choosing a post-game meal is easy. And when Green Ridge’s boys golf roster dwindled to one golfer, the decision to continue playing was a no-brainer.
“I’m playing,” Peyton said with a laugh. “I love playing. I play all summer, all spring. I try to play winter. If weather permits, I’m playing.”
The all-terrain practice is paying off. Peyton, coached by his mother Molly Needy, competes at the Class 1 state tournament in Nixa Monday and Tuesday. Peyton is seeking his third all-state selection at next week’s tournament.
Molly, in her fourth year as head coach, said she scheduled more 18-hole tournaments for Peyton’s senior season.
“I thought it was a lot more fun,” Peyton said. “When you play against higher competition, I feel like it pushes you to focus more on each hole. You can get lazy. If you can shoot a little bit a higher score than you usually do and still win, I could see myself getting a little lazy, and I don’t want that to happen.”
Fortunately, Peyton was surrounded by quality in-conference competition, consistently shooting scores on pace with Boone and Trevor Kroenke of Lincoln, Chris Mergen and Will Prenger at Sacred Heart and Jack Daugherty and Ben Moser at Windsor.
Peyton, who practices at the Sedalia Country Club and often plays with members of Lincoln, Sacred Heart and Smith-Cotton, called his friends honorary teammates.
“I pretty much have a team,” Peyton said. “But my team is the other kids in the conference. I consider them my team.”
The joke, however, is that while Peyton competed alone, none of those teams could beat Green Ridge’s “team” score on the bracket.
“When I pass another team, they’ll ask, ‘How’s Peyton doing?’” Molly said. “And he’ll ask ‘How’s Boone doing?’”
The mother-son dynamic offered plenty of quirks throughout the season.
“We drove the school van,” Molly said. “He brags that his coach always takes him out to dinner.”
Peyton has a favorite spot for post-golf cravings: Asia Hibachi.
“Asian food is my go-to,” Needy said. “It doesn’t matter if it was a bad match or a good match, we’re going to eat Asian … Fried rice is my weakness.”
However the state tournament ends may be less of a concern to Peyton than how it begins. Last season, Peyton climbed more than 30 positions from the first to second day, landing an all-state selection at 13th place after recovering from a season-high performance.
He said he doesn’t want to do that again. Molly concurred.
“That was a stressful state experience for me as a coach,” Molly said.
Beyond the tournament, Peyton is considering the University of Central Missouri or Quincy University to attend college. He has friends at UCM, but would be unable to play golf. Quincy would like him to golf.
Peyton admits the college decision has been difficult. But, being a golfer, he’s conditioned himself to clear his head, shot-to-shot. His advice on staying level-headed could be applied to anything.
“I think you have to take it serious,” Peyton said. “You have to focus. But if it gets to the point where you’re getting too mad about it, you have to step back and take a breath.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2