Yorktown high school golfer swinging like grandpa taught him
Standing behind the 14th tee box at The Players Club, Dana Van Gets snacks on a ham and cheese sandwich and looks out at the powerful right-handed swing he molded. Brevin Smith, using the custom clubs his grandpa bought him, is regularly out-driving his playing partners, Fort Wayne signee Oliver Mast and Ohio State commit Jake Miller.
Jan Van Gets, Smith’s grandmother sitting in a cart nearby, knows why this four-sport athlete from Yorktown can hit with some of the best players in the state.
“Brevin was wearing a diaper and a pacifier, and he was on the green,” Jan Van Gets, Smith’s grandma, recalled. “He wasn’t even talking yet.”
It began when he was 14 months old. Dana started bring Brevin along with him to Crestview Golf Course on the south side of Muncie. At two years old, Dana bought Brevin a membership. At 18 years old, Dana texts Brevin hole-by-hole outlines of the course the Yorktown senior is about to play for his high school matches.
Dana’s love of golf began when he was a Ball State student in the late 1960’s. He would wander out to Crestview before sunrise to walk, and eventually he figured, why not play? He fell in love – with the game and with Dana, whom he met at BSU. They moved to Fort Wayne after graduation in 1972, but by 1975 they had moved back to Muncie and he had a membership at Crestview.
The long game was for Dana to find a playing partner who was as good as him. But in the short term, it was about spending quality time with his grandson. Dana’s biggest concern was fundamentals – with an emphasis on “fun.”
Sure, Brevin would chip and putt with his plastic clubs, but every round was an adventure. They’d try to spot moles and chase squirrels. Near the 18th green is a pond, so they would sneak up on bullfrogs. Brevin loved hitting into the sand – a spot he now does his best to avoid.
On the walk from the third green to the fourth tee, you cross railroad tracks. On the walk from the sixth green to the seventh tee, same thing. So they would pause each time and look for balls along the tracks. Dana can still remember the first time a train came by and Brevin sat in awe as the wind blew in his face.
When Brevin was four, longtime pro Ron Frantz walked by the driving range.
“You got any pointers?” Dana asked.
“Wouldn’t change a thing,” Frantz responded. “He’s a natural. He’s going to be good; you just don’t know how good.”
At 13, Brevin finally beat his grandpa, and he still has the scorecard in his bedroom. Shortly after, he beat his dad, Chris Smith. And now at 18, he enters his senior season out of the shadows cast by talented former teammates like Blake Vise (who plays at Ball State).
This is a season grandpa has been waiting for all his life.
Here’s the thing about Brevin: No one knows just how good he can be. He hits these booming drives and he has a natural feel for putting, but he can be inconsistent in other areas. That’s not surprising considering Smith also plays soccer, football and basketball and is also an exceptional student. Chris was the captain of Carmel’s 1987 state championship boys soccer team, and he currently is the president of the Delaware County Futbol Club. Brevin is talented on the soccer pitch as he scored several game-winning goals for the Tigers last fall, and he could never choose between golf and soccer; he signed with Earlham to play both sports next season.
“It’s been a tug of war, but it’s been fun,” Chris says with a laugh.
On a Yorktown team that qualified for state last season but lost its top three players to graduation, Brevin is the link to those great players of the past and the young ones coming up. Smith has the capability to shoot in the low 70’s, like he did several times last season, or he can post an 81 like he did at the season-opening Yorktown Invite. Besides those monster drives, it’s the example he sets that will be most noticeable.
“His maturity and approach – not just in golf, but in life – is refreshing,” Yorktown coach Nathan McClung says. “He’s not out there cursing. He’s just really a good kid, and I know that’s a boring word to use, but he is a kid you root for because he’s a good kid.”
Brevin has a tournament coming up in Warsaw. Dana has never played there, but he has a cousin who knows the course. He’ll get the scouting report; where to aim off the tee, how the greens play and where the bunkers are.
As a sometimes frustrating yet always enjoyable round wraps up with Brevin making three straight pars, Dana exhales.
“And so it goes,” he says. “You wait his entire life to get to this point, and then in 18 matches it’s all over.”
Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, http://tspne.ws/2paZZOA