By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Playing at the college level as a freshman requires lots of talent, hard work and sometimes wing it. Isaiah Penley is adjusting rather nicely to his new role.
The former Longhorns’ standout is now a key player at Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky. He has the talent, and his work ethic is second to none.
All college athletes have to wing in the early going.
Penley found the college game much different than the high school version. Each match consisted of 36 holes over a two-day period unlike the nine holes played during a high school match. He touched on the difference and how he adjusted to it.
“It was a big shock going from high school to college competition,” said Penley. “We played nine holes and from shorter tees in high school to 36 holes and much longer tees in college. I did not do as well as I would have liked, but I am really glad that God blessed me with the opportunity to play here. I enjoyed every minute of it and I feel more ready for next year because of my freshman experience.”
Penley was not too shabby for a first-year player, and neither were the Eagles. He helped them to a seventh-place finish in a 12 team league which was quite an accomplishment for such a young squad that’s only been around for four seasons.
“You are always playing against the best of the best, so you have to up your competition level,” added Penley. “I had to develop a practice regiment and stick to it and be consistent. I feel as if I have grown over the past year in my golf game. I am excited and ready for next year to get here.”
Penley said the team plays five or six matches in the fall and the same number in the spring. The matches usually take place on Monday and Tuesday with each day being an 18-hole event.
“It can be stressful and tiring,” added Penley. “I never really was a long hitter, but I hit it well enough in high school to attack the course. In college, you are further back, so I have to play a little more conservative, but it makes it more interesting and challenging. I like dividing the matches up because we get to play in the fall and spring. We play matches in Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia, so there are lots of traveling. You get to see the different terrains, so it is definitely different from playing in the Tri-Cities.”
Penley said his expectations might have been too high at first, but he feels good about the way he handled himself on the course.
“I have improved since coming here, and my game is now more suitable for the college level. I have been able to get in a lot of college reps, so that has been a huge plus. We want to become a top 25 NAIA program, and we have been able to recruit some very good players. The school is committed to having a good golf program, and I could not play for a better coach.”
Penley works for the golf coach 10 hours per week, but that will increase to 20 next fall with his new role of tutoring. He excelled in his academics, making the dean’s list for both semesters.
“I love it here,” said Penley. “It has a home feel, and I really enjoy the small campus. It is like having your own little piece of back home in Kentucky. God put me at a great school doing something I love. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I made a great decision coming here.”