State Golf: Greeneview senior tries to join Jack Nicklaus, others

Greeneview junior Mason Witt became the school's first state golf champion in 2019 when he won the Division II boys championship at Northstar Golf Club in Sunbury. CONTRIBUTED

Mason Witt can become 20th golfer in Ohio history to win back-to-back titles

After 92 years of state high school tournament golf, 19 players are on an exclusive list: two-time medalists.

Greeneview senior Mason Witt can become No. 20 this weekend when he plays in his third Division II state tournament on the Ohio State Scarlet Course. If he wins, he will also become the 20th player to win in consecutive years, joining 18 on the two-time winners list and the two players who won three state titles.

“I really want to be able to get that feeling again,” he said.

But the last thing Witt will try to do for 36 holes – 18 on Friday and 18 on Saturday – is try to win.

He knows better.

Witt qualified for state as a freshman at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury. He was the runner-up with rounds of 69 and 72.

“I knew I could play golf that well, but as a freshman I didn’t go up there thinking that I should probably get first or second,” Witt said. “I just wanted to do the best I could.”

Witt figured as a sophomore he would do the next best thing and win. Instead, he never got the chance. At the district tournament, he missed advancing by one shot.

“I feel like I was putting too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I thought I would go up there and win it instead of just letting it happen and trusting my game.”

Witt worked on his game and played a lot of tournament golf in the spring and summer. In the fall, he dominated the Ohio Heritage Conference and shot a pair of 73s to win the sectional and district tournaments.

Witt didn’t waste his second chance at state. NorthStar, however, didn’t like that he and the champion in 2017 had shot under par. The course managers lengthened the set up and toughened the pin placements. Witt shot 72 and 78 to defeat three other players by a stroke.

He had learned his lesson.

“In golf you can’t try and win,” he said. “You just have to play the best you can and see what happens. If you try and win, then you’ll never be good.”

Greeneview coach Paul Thompson has an appreciation for Witt’s mental approach and how he never stops trying to improve. As a senior on the College Credit Plus plan, Witt doesn’t have to be at school until 10:20. So he heads to Country Club of the North at 7 a.m. and practices.

“How many kids would voluntarily wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning, go hit golf balls and then come to school when they don’t have to be at school till 10:20?” Thompson asked, already knowing the answer. “I know that he’s worked hard enough that he deserves every opportunity to win this thing that he can give himself. God, I hope he does well.”

This week won’t be the last time Thompson will get to see Witt compete. Witt will play college golf at Xavier, then, Thompson hopes, on TV someday. But that’s for another time. This week, Witt is working to ensure his mind is right.

“When you try and win, then you’re thinking about your score too much and you’re focused on the other players instead of just focusing on yourself and the shot in front of you,” he said. “It’s hard to hit good golf shots when your mind’s somewhere else.”

Witt has played on the Scarlet Course twice. First as a 14-year-old, then 18 months ago in a junior tournament when he shot 75, 79 and 73.

“It’s much tougher than NorthStar in my opinion just because there are about 400 bunkers out there,” he said. “It’s more of a course where I feel like it will bring the better players to the top.”

Speaking of better players, two recognizable names are on the list of 19 players to win two state championships. One is 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis who won in 1994-95 for Delaware Buckeye Valley.

The other player is a guy who won for Upper Arlington in 1956-57. His name is Jack Nicklaus.

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