STEPHENS CITY — Brett Loy doesn’t quite remember the first time he picked up a golf club.
Though Loy is only a sophomore at Sherando High School, his first taste of the sport might as well have been a lifetime ago. Loy was just 18 months old when he first grabbed a club, and his passion for the sport grew rapidly from there.
Loy entered his first tournament when he was 5 years old, and has worked extensively with Jerry Wampler — the longtime head PGA professional at Rock Harbor Golf Course in Winchester — to improve his game since that time.
By the time Loy arrived at Sherando as a freshman last season, he slid easily into the top spot of the Warriors’ golf lineup and became a role model for his teammates.
“He started at such an early age and he learned the proper way to do everything, and he’s carried that over to the team,” Sherando head golf coach Rob Wright said recently. “The other kids will kind of emulate him, the certain way he stands, the way he holds his club, the type of tee he uses, things like that. They look at that and they follow that lead. Sometimes he’s a leader and doesn’t know it just because of the way he carries himself.”
Loy took that leadership to new heights for the Warriors as a sophomore during the 2014 fall sports season.
Loy, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2014 Golfer of the Year, made school history this past season when he became the first Sherando golfer to win an individual state championship, a feat he achieved with a win at the Group 4A state tournament at Ivy Hills Golf Course in Forest back in mid-October.
It was Loy’s first postseason tournament win in his Sherando career.
“It’s pretty special,” said Loy, who also won the Conference 21 mini tournament with an 18-hole season-low 68 back in August, in addition to two Northwestern District mini-tournament victories.
“It was just a lot of hard work and just a lot of time I put in. It just paid off really well.”
It’s that work ethic that has allowed Loy to accomplish so much on the links at such a young age, and what sets him apart from most high school golfers that Wright has come in contact with.
Loy tries to get in a round of golf every day, even during the winter months as long as there isn’t snow on the ground. When he’s not on the course, he’s in the gym working on maintaining his core strength and flexibility, or he’s practicing on a putting mat he has in his bedroom.
“He cleans his clubs every night — even his grips every night. He’s just obsessed, which is great,” Wright said. “You don’t find many that are like that, that are dedicated to it.”
And Loy does research on opposing players, as well.
“He has statistics on every kid on every team that he plays,” Wright said. “It’s just unbelievable the amount of statistics he has.”
All of that work in the offseason — which included a stint with the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour that Loy said helped him improve the mental aspects of his game — prepped Loy for the postseason success that he would enjoy with Sherando this past fall.
Loy, who missed out on qualifying for last year’s state tournament by one stroke, placed second in both the Conference 21 and Region 4A North tournaments this season in the weeks leading up to the state championship event.
At the 4A state meet, Loy opened the two-day tournament on Oct. 13 with an even-par 72, a mark that topped the field by one stroke. The next day, the weather played havoc with the event.
Loy completed only one hole — on which he made par — on the second day of the event before heavy rainfall forced officials to end the tournament, declaring Loy the 4A state champion. Loy finished with a two-day stroke total of 76.
“I had a lot of confidence going into it and I posted an OK day. I was trying to get under par but I struggled a little bit towards the end,” Loy recalled. “The second day I really felt like I could do something but the weather didn’t allow me to do it.”
Loy said his strengths on the course have long been his chipping and putting, but he said he put a lot of focus into being more consistent off the tee this season and experienced noticeable results.
“I used to be kind of sporadic with my woods off the tee. This year I really worked on that and I gained more distance, too. I just hit a lot more fairways,” Loy said.
Loy has already been hard at work preparing for next season — Wright said Loy has already asked him where next year’s state tournament will be held, though that location has not yet been determined — and he said he’s excited to get his teammates more involved in his own offseason routine.
Sherando, which placed fourth at the Conference 21 meet and fell short of qualifying for the regional tournament, graduates just one senior from its top six, giving the Warriors plenty of returning experience next season. Loy is determined to ensure he has some teammates with him at next year’s regional tournament, and possibly beyond.
“I’ll tell you, this winter he’ll go drag them out of the house to go play golf,” Wright said.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org