Helping a friend

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nansemond River Golf Club is a very long course, making it a good test for Virginia’s best junior golfers this week.

It’s an even longer course to walk. Many of the greens and the following tees are a long way apart. Somehow, Tom Steele also found an undulating, if not quite hilly, piece of land along the Nansemond River when he designed and built the course in the late ‘90s. Depending on how straight you keep your golf ball around the course, it can be a tiresome day to walk 18 holes.

Take that long walk on a bright, humid summer day with temperatures getting on toward 100 — as they were Tuesday and are expected to be for the rest of the week — and a round of golf can turn dangerous without the right rest, food and water.

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All the competitors at the VSGA Junior Match Play Championship are out there for good — maybe even prestigious — reasons, though. The trophies the Virginia State Golf Association awards to its state champions each year are extremely handsome.

Then there are also the potential rewards of college scholarships or professional career paths for a select few. But there are many intangible rewards to gain through such competition, too.

None of that, except possibly the last sentence, can sum up why Noah Tripp put himself through in the midst of Tuesday’s heat — a five-hour round of golf and many miles of walking and lugging a heavy golf bag around on his back.

Through it all, he never swung a club.

Tripp caddied for John David Sanderson, a classmate at Summit Christian Academy in Yorktown. A few other players in the VSGA Junior Match Play Championship had caddies, too, but most players go without such a luxury.

Tripp’s hoping he can do it again for Sanderson today, Thursday and Friday, as well. If Sanderson makes it to Thursday and Friday, the commitment could be for 36 or more holes each day.

“I guess I’m just helping out a friend,” Tripp said.

Tripp played baseball at Summit Christian this past spring, although Sanderson and his dad both are planning to recruit him onto the golf team next year.

“I’ve got this guy,” Sanderson said, when asked about coping with the long, hot day. “It’s a lot easier when I have him carrying the bag all the way around.”

“He helped me keep my strength up a lot longer. Especially in this heat, you can lose it pretty quickly,” Sanderson said.

In a competitive round of golf, especially in a high-pressure tournament, losing concentration might be all the difference, even more so than being physically tired.

Sanderson was grateful to and shared some of the credit with Tripp after Tuesday’s round, and that’s exactly what he should’ve done.