Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tate Tatom Chooses the Wild Blue Yonder

Tate Tatom playing golf in Ennis, Montana.
We spied Tate Tatom when he was a first time Montana State high school Class C champion. We said he was the best young golf talent we had ever seen. 

He has won two additional state championships since and a couple of out-of-state junior events, most recently the AJGA Kansas Junior at Buffalo Dunes, Garden City Kansas.

AJGA Kansas Junior
6/2/2014 - 6/5/2014

Location: Buffalo Dunes GC, Garden City, Kan.
Type: Junior Boys 
1Tate Tatom72-75-74221-
2Austin Murphy77-72-74223-
2Griffin Barela72-76-75223-
4Jack Tianyi Cen78-76-70224-
4Michael Hodson73-77-74224-
4Zachary Hoskins72-78-74224-
7Tyler Gammill77-80-69226-
7Ben Fernandez73-79-74226-
7Taylor Larsen74-73-79226-
10Carson Seals79-76-73228-
10Wells Padgett78-76-74228-
10Jorey Knutson75-75-78228-

The local Kansas paper was much impressed

By BRETT MARSHALLbmarshall@gctelegram.com
Tate Tatom of Gallatin Gateway, Mont., gets to play a shortened high school golf season in his northwest area more noted for skiing than its golf courses.
Courtney Dow has the pleasure of playing year-round golf around her Texas home of Frisco, Texas.
On Thursday, the two players took different routes — but with the same end results — to capture the boys and girls championships of the AJGA Kansas Junior at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
Tatom, holding portions of the lead in each of the three rounds of the 54-hole event, overcame a shaky front nine of 4-over-par 40, and rebounded with a 2-under 34 on the incoming nine to shoot 74 for a three-day total of 221, to finish two shots clear of Austin Murphy of Morgan Hill, Calif., and Griffin Barela of Lakewood, Colo., with those two shooting final rounds of 74 and 75 to tie at 223.
For Dow, it was her first victory of the year in an AJGA event, while Tatom was claiming a win in just his second ever AJGA event. 
"It's very exciting to drive 16 hours and then win a tournament," Tatom said.
"It' just that much better. I come from a small town in Montana, and I get a lot of support from people there."
Tatom said his home course just opened the week prior to his coming to Kansas for the AJGA event, but that he had been playing spring high school golf for the past six weeks.
"Our schedule is kinda crammed into a short span, and usually several of those tournaments get cancelled by bad weather," Tatom said.
"I've won three state championships, but this certainly ranks pretty high knowing that I can play with some of the top kids around the country."
And while his final 74 wasn't exactly what he was looking for, he was pleased that he could keep his round together after the shaky start. 
"I almost wanted to quit at the turn," Tatom said, smiling. "It wasn't like I was playing bad golf, I just got unlucky a couple of times. I'm proud that I could keep it going."
Late last week Tate Tatom announced, after he finishes his senior year of high school, it's on to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014 11:27 pm

By JON MALETZ Chronicle Sports Editor | 0 Comments

When he has walked off the golf course of late, Tatom routinely has been inundated with emails and Facebook messages from Division I programs eagerly campaigning for the coveted recruit’s commitment.

“My dad was recruited to play football so he’s helped me a lot, but this is different,” Tatom said Saturday. “In football it’s more like, ‘There’s a ball in the air, so don’t drop it,’ while I’m on the course thinking, ‘Don’t hit it right. Don’t hit it right or you’ll bogey and your scores will be higher.’ It’s a lot of pressure.”

The burden has dissipated now.

Tatom has finally made his decision, one predicated on much more than the sport in which he has quickly risen to prominence.

“I have committed to play at the United States Air Force Academy,” Tatom wrote in an impromptu email to The Daily Chronicle on Friday. “I chose Air Force because I want to serve our country and be a part of something larger than myself and my golf game.”

Tatom calls this his “higher calling” and dream scenario, one that has been playing out since he was a child growing up in the Dallas suburbs.

“Me and my friends used to play Army when we were little,” he recalled. “There were four of us; three are now Marines, and they’re all going on their first deployment to Spain. This is just something we all wanted to do. When I learned I could go to college, join the military and play golf, it felt like the perfect fit.”

Tatom first contacted Air Force head and associate coaches George Koury and Chris Wilson on the eve of a PGA junior event in Colorado Springs in June 2013.


In the months since his visit, Tatom has been working to fulfill the Academy’s stringent acceptance criteria. He also applied for a congressional scholarship, of which only five will be awarded to Montanans — the Air Force superintendent also holds 100 nominations, he said — and will have to pass a physical fitness test.

The task has been daunting, Tatom said, but a call from Koury earlier this week provided some refreshing clarity.

“He told me my SAT and ACT scores look good and he can guarantee I’m in,” Tatom added. “At that point I was ready to go.

“Koury and Wilson are genuinely nice guys. … I’m pretty hard on myself already, so I didn’t really want a coach that would be really mean if I didn’t play well. Those guys really do care about you; the head coach sat down with my parents and said he takes care of his guys like they’re his kids.”

That sense of community was something Tatom craved when his family relocated to Montana from Texas. He found it at tiny Lone Peak — his graduating class is just 25 — and has found the experience to be rewarding ever since, on and off the course.

He helped a fledgling Big Horns golf team win consecutive state crowns in 2013 and 2014, and is currently ranked 280th in the world junior golf rankings.

He is slated to take part in next week’s prestigious Big I Junior Championship in Bridgeport, W.V.

“It’s funny, but I keep telling my dad that if we didn’t move here I don’t think I’d become as good as I did,” Tatom said. “I had been playing golf every single day for eight straight years in Dallas — I felt guilty if I didn’t. Now that I live here, it’s not possible to play during the winter, so I don’t have to bug myself; I needed those breaks. When the season comes, I’m pumped up and ready to play.”

Big Horns head coach Mike King lauded Tatom’s decision Saturday evening.

“Knowing Tate and his personal discipline and his commitment to what he’s trying to achieve, I knew that was going to be the best fit for him,” King said. “He’s been such a stabilizing force for not only the boys team, but the girls — they look to him because of his work ethic and his determination. … It sends a great message to young players and younger kids that something like this is possible, even in Big Sky.

“Most schools who don’t know Tate just see a kid from Montana who won three state championships. Those who actually invest some time and energy have found that he’s really the complete package. He’s a great student, a good kid, and a really good player.”
Jon Maletz can be reached at jmaletz@dailychronicle.com or 582-2601. Follow him on Twitter @jmaletz.


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