Young golfer makes excellence her goal
     2016-10-07      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Scottsbluff junior Shelby Poynter lines up a putt during practice before the team’s last event of the season, the Greater Nebraska Activities Conference tournament, hosted this year at Scottsbluff. 
People would think a young golfer who’s had lots of success over the season must have been golfing since an early age. That’s not the case with Scottsbluff junior Shelby Poynter.

Over the 2016 golf season, Shelby has accumulated nine tournament individual titles as her team finished with seven tournament championships.

The daughter of Sam and Suzanne Poynter, Shelby said her father occasionally golfs, but they’re not that heavily into sports. She tried cross country in middle school, but really didn’t like it. She also didn’t like volleyball. “Golf was about the only thing for me and I’ve been playing since I was freshman,” she said.

Shelby was a freshman member of the Scottsbluff team when they claimed the Class B state championship in 2014. Last year, they finished second to Omaha Duchesne in 2015.

Shelby said she’s been successful during her short (so far) career because she learned that hard work pays off.

“I play in summer tournaments in Colorado and Nebraska all the time and I thank my mom for taking me to all of those,” she said. “During the winter, I go to the Field of Dreams complex and work on my swing indoors. I also try to go to at least two tournaments in Arizona over the winter.”

Shelby’s play in bigger regional tournaments has also gotten her noticed. She’s been listed nationally in the publications Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golf Week.

When putts aren’t falling and too many balls end up in the rough, she said focus on the game makes the difference.

“I was playing horribly the second day of the state tournament last year,” Shelby said. “I focused and shot par on the last six holes, which was a big deal for me.”

Her sister was watching the state tournament online and reported afterwards that Shelby was outside the top 10 when the field approached the 10th hole. With a string of pars, Shelby finished in second place on the individual board in her sophomore year.

Shelby still has the state tournament coming up on Oct. 10 and 11 in Columbus. “I’d like to break the scoring average record for a season either this year or next,” she said. “I’d also like to break 70 a couple of more times. Winning state this year and next year would be really nice as well – especially next year when I’m a senior.”

Coach Bert Wright said he’s relatively new, but he’s noticed that Shelby stands out right away. “She works extremely hard. After practice is done, she does even more. I don’t know what time she eventually finishes up. Her attention to every detail of the game is something to behold.”

Wright said he’s coached boys’ golf at Scottsbluff in the past, but has never seen a player as focused as Shelby.

Once the season is over, Shelby will go back inside to work on her technique. Then after more regional tournaments over the summer of 2017, she’s back for her senior season at Scottsbluff.

After that? “It would be nice to play on the pro tour sometime in the future,” she said. To which Coach Wright responded she could hire him as her caddy.

“I still have to finish college first and I’ll play golf there,” Shelby said. “Maybe I’ll go to dental school.”

Her philosophy on the game is simple. “Worry about your own game and yourself,” she said. “Don’t bring unnecessary outside things into it.”

Wanting to play in college has also motivated her to keep up with her grades even more. Plus the game has also given her a lot more confidence she didn’t have in the past.

“The team laughs a lot together in practice,” Shelby said. “We don’t play together in tournaments, so it’s fun to see how everyone is doing.”

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