By Mac McLeod,
“I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little nervous, but I was also really excited last week on my way to Willow Brook for the state tournament,” Livingston academy junior golfer Hayden Ledbetter admitted. “But Dad just told me I had already done the hard work just getting there, so go and have some fun.”
While having “fun” last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the state golf tournament near Manchester, Ledbetter fired rounds of 77 and 71 for a two-day total of 148 and nailed down the 12th spot in Large School division. He became the first Livingston Academy player to accomplish that feat.
Actually, the young golfer was headed for a much higher finish, but bogies on both 17 and 18 pushed him for a three-under round of 69 to the one under par round of 71.
Had Ledbetter finished in the top 10, he would also have been named to the Tennessee High School All-State Team.
“I hated to miss that,” the Wildcat golfer admitted, “but I’ve played golf long enough to know that stuff happens on a golf course and you accept it and move on. When I reached the 17th, I was in good shape at 3 under on the round, but a bad shot there and again on 18 kinda changed things around.”
Ledbetter finished 4th in District 8-AA to advance where he and two other golfers tied for third. He advanced to the state tournament with a win on the first hole of sudden death.
Playing golf since he was about 7, Ledbetter took up the game from his grandfather and, like most people who play it more than once, got hooked.
“I just liked it from the start,” Ledbetter continued. “It was very challenging and is even more today, and that was one of the things I liked about it. You never play as good as you want to play, so you keep coming back and trying to get better. Golf is just a great sport.
“I had a pretty good first round on Tuesday (77), but I wasn’t happy with it at all. On Wednesday, I really had a good day. My drives were good and my iron shots were good too. Putting was a little tough, but all in all, the 71 was my personal best so far, so I’ll take that and work with it.
“I had never played at Willow Brook, but really liked it,” he added. “It was more flat than the course here. The fairways were hard and we got plenty of roll off the tee, and the greens were in really good shape. I’ll do my best to get back there next year and hopefully do better.”
Hayden is the son of David and Lisa Ledbetter of Livingston.