Nixa golf

Nixa's Hunter McConnell and the Eagles play Ozark on Thursday at Fremont Hills Country Club.

The usual circumstances were in place for Hunter McConnell to catch the golf bug during his childhood. But it wasn’t until last year as a junior that he checked out what the fuss about birdies, bogeys and eagles was all about.

He was bitten by the bug in a big way upon joining Nixa’s golf team.

“I had a couple buddies who played, my cousin played and my grandfather was always big into it,” McConnell said. “That drove me to try it and I liked it. Growing up around golf, I had an idea what to do and how to do things. It was hard for me adapting, learning and listening to people’s advice. After I got a hold of it, it kind of took off for me.

“After our season ended last year, I’ve been on the course a lot. I wake up and want to go play. I enjoy it so much. I wish I would have played my whole life.”

McConnell’s love for the game has shown up on his scorecards. 

“He has improved as much as anybody I’ve coached in one year,” coach Jeff Lotz said. “With only one year under his belt, he has come a long way.

"It’s too bad he didn’t come out when he was a freshman. One year of golf under your belt, that’s not much because golf requires so much skill and practice. But he’s the kind of kid who is a easy to root for because he works so hard.”

McConnell has risen the Eagles’ ranks and is vying for a spot in their varsity lineup. He is one of only three seniors for Nixa.

“Our competition is going to be good for us,” he said. “It gives everyone an edge to want to practice more.”

More practice is no problem for McConnell. He reports the endless hours on the course and the range have seen him gain particular progress with his wedges and drivers. 

“I’d say my approach game and shots off the tee have improved the most,” he said. "I’ve been working on them and and it’s noticeable they have improved. My putting is still coming along. I’ve got a lot of work to do there and have been working on it a lot.”

McConnell and Nixa open their season at the St. Charles Bogey Hills Invitational on Monday. The Eagles will meet Ozark on Thursday at Fremont Hills Country Club.

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