Chris Butler expected to be nervous when he teed off in his first Kentucky State Golf Amateur Championships Tuesday. He just didn’t expect the nerves to stick around.
“Every time. It’s always been an every time thing being nervous, but it usually goes away,” said Butler. “That was the thing that shocked me. I was nervous the entire time I was there, from the second I got there until the second I left.”
The Hustonville golfer attributed his constant case of nerves to the company he was keeping at The Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, including the defending State Am champion Patrick Newcomb.
“It was definitely exciting, especially when you get there and, I mean, you see all these great players around you. It’s hard to take in at first, and it was hard to make myself feel like I belong,” Butler said. “It was really exciting to know that I was there playing with them.”
Despite not being able to shake his nerves, Butler played well. However, it wasn’t strong enough to make the opening round cut, as he missed the cut off of 151 by two strokes.
“I shot a 77-76 (153) and wound up missing it by two shots. So that wasn’t so bad for my first try,” Butler said. “There are kids there that have played two or three years and they know how to cope with it. Hopefully, I’ll know better how to cope with it next time.”
Butler, who will play golf for Lindsey Wilson College, said slow starts hindered his play.
“Both days that I played, the first couple holes really got me, and I was kind of behind the rest of the day trying to battle to get back. And that’s just something you can’t do in a tournament like that,” he said.
Butler played in a threesome with Chris Griffin, Murray State’s women’s golf coach, who made the cut with a 147 (76-71) and Brad McAlister of Bowling Green who had a 161 (81-80).
Butler was happy with his performance not only because of the competition, but because of the course.
“It was the toughest course I’ve ever played in my life,” he said of The Cardinal Club links. “It was 7,100 yards and that’s about 500 to 600 yards longer than any high school tournament I ever played in. It’s a big difference, but it’s not something that you can let bother you because it will affect you real quick.”
Even though Butler missed the opening-round cut and shot above his average, he had no complaints on his tournament experience.
“I was definitely pleased with how I did and I enjoyed it actually,”¿he said. “I probably missed two or three putts yesterday (Tuesday) that I knew would probably cost me, and I told my Dad (Scott Butler) when I got done that I felt like I had missed it.”
“But I enjoyed it up there,”¿he said. “It was good for me and my Dad. He went up there and caddied for me. It was something different that we got to enjoy. I had a great time. I felt like I represented myself and the county in a very good manner.”
Is Butler ready for a return to the State Am?
“I’m prepared for next summer,” he said “But hopefully less nerves next time.”
Note: Patrick Newcomb, who plays for Murray State, won his second straight State Amateur golf title Thursday, shooting a 7-under-par 206 (68-67-71).