Loy’s leadership key to Warriors’ golf success

Sherando's Brett Loy ended his junior season with a sixth-place finish at the Group 4A state tournament in October and was the Conference 21A champion. Loy is The Northern Virginia Daily's 2015 Golfer of the Year. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – For Sherando High School junior Brett Loy, the sport of golf never stops.

On most days Loy is on the golf course. Even in the winter, when the weather cooperates and the temperature is above freezing, Loy is on the links. Rarely does he take a day off from sharpening his skills in the sport he’s been playing since he first picked up a golf club at 18 months old.

Even the minor things, like cleaning his golf clubs every night, don’t escape his strict daily routine.

And since joining Sherando’s varsity golf team as a freshman in 2013, he has used his devotion and love of the sport to improve the teammates around him by consistently taking them out golfing in the offseason and setting a prime example of consistency.

“I think that the dedication he has definitely wears off on the other guys,” Warriors golf coach Rob Wright said recently, adding that Loy probably has a “better book of statistics on our team than I do.”

It was Loy’s persistence in improving not only himself but his teammates as well that Wright said played a “tremendous” factor in the Warriors’ success in 2015. While Loy reached the Group 4A state tournament for the second straight year this past season, Sherando reached the Region 4A West tournament as a team, something it failed to do in each of Loy’s first two seasons while he enjoyed a playoff run that included an individual state championship in 2014.

Much of the credit for the Warriors’ improvement can be directed right at Loy, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2015 Golfer of the Year for the second straight year, who seized a leadership role on the team as a freshman two years ago and hasn’t relinquished it.

“His leadership ability, I think, is growing every year too,” Wright said of Loy. “He feels more confident in it and the other golfers really look up to him.”

Loy couldn’t match the success he had as a sophomore last season, when he won the school’s first individual golf state championship, as his junior year ended with a sixth-place finish at Glenrochie Country Club in Abingdon. Nonetheless, Loy called this past season an “exciting” year filled with plenty of individual and team successes.

“We were pretty satisfied,” said Loy, whose team came within a playoff hole victory of reaching the state tournament. “We had a lot of runner-up finishes. We were just short in a lot of stuff this year, so we kept it interesting.”

The 2015 season couldn’t have started much better for Loy, who enjoyed a month-long stretch of solid performances. During that span, he placed second in both the season opening Curly Licklider tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and the two-day Bryan Gunter Memorial Golf Tournament, capping the run with a win in the 12-team Skyline Invitational on Sept. 15, his first bogey-free round in high school.

“Everything was just clicking all at the right time,” said Loy, who led the Warriors to runner-up finishes in all three tournaments. “I mean I didn’t play that well but I played probably the best streak of high school I’ve had.”

Loy’s success continued into the postseason, where he won the Conference 21A tournament at Heritage Oaks Golf Club in Harrisonburg, his second career high school playoff tournament victory.

But in the Region 4A West tournament on the same course just over a week later, Loy needed what Wright called “three lives” to advance to his second straight state tournament.

Sherando as a team finished in a three-way tie for second place (the top two teams in the regional tournament automatically qualified for state competition), while Loy finished in a five-way tie for sixth-place, the final individual state-qualifying spot. Both situations required playoff holes to determine advancements.

The Warriors came up a stroke short on the first team playoff hole and were eliminated, but Loy topped the competition on the first individual playoff hole – the par-5 No. 1 – by a stroke to lock up a spot in Abingdon.

“I was able to keep my composure,” Loy said. “I mean, I didn’t have an easy putt. I hadn’t really made anything all day. It was probably the most pressure putt of the day so I’m glad I made it.”

Once at Glenrochie, Loy fired an 81 on the first day but recovered with a 74 the second day – tied for the second-lowest round of the tournament, Wright said – to finish with a two-day total of 155, 11 strokes off the championship pace of Loudoun Valley’s Brandon Weaver (144).

“I probably put just a little bit too much pressure on myself to repeat,” Loy said. “But I don’t know, I just need to work on the right things. That’s what I’m trying to do now, just kind of rebuild and keep progressing.”

For Loy, that means working on improving the mental aspect of his game while fine-tuning some of his swing mechanics ahead of his senior season.

Loy said next season will be different after the graduation of seniors Mason Scott and Josh Hogue, but he added he’s excited to see what kind of team the Warriors will have in 2016 when some younger players join a returning core that includes Jonah Pearson and Josh Bianco.

“It’s gonna be different,” Wright said, “but … I think with the leaders we have, I think they can build up the young kids we’ve got coming up.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com