November 20, 2011

Boys' Golfer of the Year
Consistency was his hallmark

Joe Walp's steady play for Deering resulted in a highly successful season, including a share of the Class A title.

By Tom Chard
Staff Writer

Joe Walp of Deering credits a more consistent approach to his golf game as a main reason for his outstanding play this fall. Walp, a senior, opened the season by shooting a pair of 32s for nine holes in his first two matches.

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In addition to an undefeated regular season, Joe Walp helped an inexperienced Deering team qualify for the state team championships, and he tied with Ben Bell of Sanford for the Class A individual championship.

2011 Telegram File

He stayed in the 30s for the rest his matches, including a 35 on the front nine at The Woodlands Club, and finished with a 34.8 stroke average. At the Southern Maine Activities Association qualifying tournament, Walp shared medalist honors with Mike Haas-Zanghi at 71. At the Class A state individual championship, Walp shot a 75 to tie for first with Ben Bell of Sanford.

"I had a consistent year," said Walp. "I didn't have too many bad days."

Walp is the Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald boys' golfer of the year.

He has been Deering's No. 1 golfer since his freshman year.

"What Joe has accomplished in his four seasons is quite impressive," said Coach Bill Goodman. "To play No. 1 all four years and play well is an accomplishment. His 34.8 stroke average and 10-0 record was against other No. 1s in the toughest division (North) in the SMAA."

When asked for a highlight of the season, Walp didn't mention any individual accomplishment.

"Our team qualifying for the states was the highlight," said Walp. "We didn't expect that at all."

Deering finished third out of 12 teams at the Class A state championships after being low qualifier in the SMAA tournament. Walp and Rocco Spizuoco were the only holdovers from last year's team that lost the state title on a tiebreaker. With Walp and Spizuoco leading the way, the younger Rams improved as the season progressed.

Walp became a better putter.

"I was a lot better on short putts," he said. "It meant the difference between shooting even par or two to three shots higher. "

With maturity and the natural growth process, Walp has added distance on his tee shots and irons. His strategy hasn't changed.

"My goal is to keep the ball in play and give myself a shot to the green," said Walp.

Walp is pretty much a self-taught golfer. He started playing with his brother and father, both named Mike, at Riverside Golf Course .

"I was 7 or 8 years old when I started playing," he said.

He counts on his brother for help with his game. Mike Walp is five years older and played at Deering.

"He helps me with my game. He's a low-handicapper. When we play, our matches are competitive," said Walp.

Walp won the Maine Junior Championship in the 15- to 17-year-old division in 2010. This summer his highlight was playing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in Bremerton, Wash. He failed to make the 36-hole cut for match play, shooting 77 and 85. Despite that, he learned from the experience.

"The top players, when they found trouble, were able to recover and make pars. They capitalized on their opportunities," said Walp.

Walp is looking at attending Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., next fall.

"I've talked to the golf coach and it looks good," he said.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

Twitter: TomChardPPH


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