Boys Golf: Steady play by Mark Towns boosts Worthington Kilbourne
In a season that had an uncertain start for the Worthington Kilbourne boys golf team because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Mark Towns has made the most of his opportunity to compete.
The senior emerged as Kilbourne's top player and was instrumental in leading the Wolves to the OCC-Capital Division title, even though they missed the first round of the tournament at Turnberry when Worthington athletics were suspended from July 28 to Aug. 6.
"It was a very rough start to the season, but we've pulled our own," Towns said. "I feel like I've handled it kind of well."
Kilbourne finished 21-0 in league play after placing first in the final three rounds at Apple Valley (313), Darby Creek (321) and Denison Golf Club (324). The Wolves averaged 319.33 strokes to finish ahead of runner-up Delaware (24-3, 321.5).
Towns led Kilbourne in each round, shooting 76 at Apple Valley, 74 at Darby Creek and 75 at Denison to finish with a team-best 75 average in league play.
Towns originally wasn't eligible for OCC honors because Kilbourne competed in only three of the four league rounds, but that rule was changed this season to account for players whose schools might have missed matches because of the pandemic.
Towns won OCC-Capital Player of the Year honors, the first time he has earned all-league recognition.
"It feels kind of weird, not going to lie," Towns said. "It feels good, though. We did the best we could with the competition we had."
Kilbourne coach Gavin Meeks said it was hard work that paid off for Towns.
"Mark has worked his butt off since last season to get himself in a position where he could be successful this year," Meeks said. "Mark has worked his tail off."
Other key contributors for Kilbourne in league play included Isaac Henry (78.67 average), Owen Cotterman (80.67) and Sam Marano (85). Henry was first-team all-league, Cotterman was on the second team and Marano was honorable mention.
Also competing in the league tournament were Logan Bush (91.5 average at Apple Valley and Denison) and Simon Abbott (97 at Darby Creek).
Towns has made consistent improvements since he was called up to the varsity as a freshman. He averaged 90.1 as a freshman, 85.3 sophomore and 83.1 as a junior.
Before the Rodney Butt Classic on Sept. 19 at Denison, Towns was averaging 78 on the season.
"He's been consistently in the 70s for us," Meeks said. "The thing about Mark this year, he's played big when it counted. He played three really good rounds in the OCC this year, and that's why he won Player of the Year honors. When the heat was on, he went out and played golf."
Towns credited his instruction at The Golf Room in Dublin under instructor Kyle Morris with helping him improve his game. He began taking lessons there last winter.
"He does a great job teaching you everything about golf," Towns said. "They have a great staff and they've certainly played a huge role in getting me where I want to be."
Towns added that improvements he made in his short game also played a key role.
"My short game has always been very good," he said. "My iron play is all right, but the thing I always have confidence in is my short game. I can always rely on it to get me around the course."
Towns said he plans to take a gap year after graduating from Kilbourne, and that his goal is to play and train more during that time in hopes of playing Division I golf in college.
The Wolves are now getting ready for the postseason, which begins with a Division I sectional Oct. 6 or 7.