By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Five years ago, Ryan Rettberg was at a friend's house. Looking for something to pass the time, the friend's dad took them to a nearby golf course.
It was the first time Rettberg had ever put his hands on a club. But what started as a fun thing to do quickly became Rettberg's passion. And in just five years, the Skyline senior has elevated his game to among the best and has earned the title as The Northern Virginia Daily's Golfer of the Year.
"I don't really know what attracted me to the sport," Rettberg said. "It was just a lot of fun to play."
Since that day on the golf course, Rettberg has been studying the sport and trying to improve his skills as a golfer. He practices every day of the year, sometimes going down to his basement to practice when the weather keeps him inside.
Heading into his senior season, Rettberg said his goal was to qualify for the state championships, a lofty goal for any golfer. As the season got underway, it became clear Rettberg was serious about his drive to earn a berth to states, and his game echoed his passion.
Rettberg took first in the Skyline Invitational, then shot a 75 at the Winchester Country Club to finish second in the district. In regional play Rettberg again finished second, guaranteeing him a spot in the state tournament. At states he shot well, placing 13th in a deep and talented field of golfers. His successful season helped earn him all-district and all-region honors for the fourth time in as many seasons.
"You can really see that he's matured a lot," Skyline coach Frank Moxie said. "I'd say the best part of his game was his shot-making abilities, as well as the short game. I think he's perfected the short game."
But what has been most impressive about Rettberg's game is his consistency. Over his four years on the high school golf team, Rettberg has watched his overall game improve, knocking his stroke average down every season.
"His stroke average has dropped by two every year," Moxie said. "His first year he was at Warren County, and last year his average was about 75.2. This year he had a great season and brought his average down to 73.6."
At practice, Moxie said sometimes he'll look to Rettberg to help give advice to other golfers on the team, even sometimes using Rettberg as an instructional tool by forcing him to stand up in front of his teammates and demonstrate a point the coach is trying to get across.
Rettberg said he doesn't mind when that happens. For him, it's another opportunity to help his team get better.
Despite the accolades and praise Rettberg has garnered over the years, he's quick to admit his game isn't perfect. Rettberg said the biggest temptation is to think prematurely about holes up ahead or dwell on a poor shot from a previous hole.
"You really have to take everything slow out there," Rettberg said. "You can't look ahead or [to] past holes, because you'll forget about your approach at the hole you're on. That's definitely something I used to be bad at."
With his senior season complete, Rettberg said he plans to continue golfing at Radford University next fall. Rettberg said he has already been to the campus a few times and recently met with the school's golf coach and toured the facilities.
It's hard to believe a simple after-school activity one day could lead to the one thing Rettberg now has so much passion for. But after watching him on the links for a day, it's easy to see he picked the right one.
"It's just such a fun game," Rettberg said.
"I really enjoy playing it and I'm looking forward to continuing that in the future."