So how did you spend your summer vacation? Bet none of you can hold a candle to returning Miami Springs Senior High School student Patrick Bolton.
Between his golfing talents and brilliant math skills, Bolton has been nonstop busy. And we mean NONSTOP.
Forget Bill and Ted. We’ll call this one Pat’s Great Adventure.
An incoming senior at Springs, Bolton is a terrific golfer and, after leading the Golden Hawks team to a regional appearance last fall, set out on a golf odyssey once school let out in early June that might make Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods envious.
From Texas to California to Utah to Louisiana back to Florida, Bolton racked up frequent flyer miles — 30,000, by Bolton’s estimate — that might have him flying free for quite awhile.
But this isn’t just about golf, either. In between playing AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments, he flew out to San Diego the last weekend in July.
There, as not only a member of the award-winning MSSH Mu Alpha Theta Math Team but the executive vice president as well, he helped lead his team to a ninth-place national finish.
Bolton delivered a seven-minute speech about Leonhard Euler in the Alpha “Chalk Talk” division (a math speaking competition) and won it. His first-place finish made him a national champion in that category.
Oh yeah, did we forget to mention in late June he was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a golf camp attended by several college coaches?
If anybody had a right to say he’s a little tired it would be Bolton, but that’s just not the case.
“What a great summer, something I’ll always remember,” Bolton said. “I was so busy I guess I didn’t have time to get tired and now, of course, school is starting next week, so off I go.”
Indeed, off he goes as Bolton will try to lead the Golden Hawks golf team to another successful season and perhaps accomplish something he came up just short of last November, a trip to state.
“Before summer started, I told myself I would devote each day to better enhance my golf skills and fitness for the sport,” said Bolton. “A lot of work has been put into the sport; earlier this year I began working out as well. I went from averaging under 240-yard drives last season to firing drives over 300 yards in many tournaments this summer.”
With the improvement of his skills, Bolton decided to take on a new, more challenging level of junior golf tournaments with the AJGA. This association conducts several tournaments a year around the country for the best junior golfers in the nation against some of the toughest competition.
“I really played well and was averaging scores in the low 70s, playing on the toughest courses of each state,” said Bolton, who continued placing in the top 10 and 20, competing in fields of more than 100 kids. “I traveled so much this summer that I don’t think I actually stayed at my own house for more than a couple of days."
And the 30,000 miles was no exaggeration according to Bolton.
"I actually put together the calculations and figured it out," said Bolton who, considering his math expertise, would be one to know. "It was such a high number because I flew to each state more than once because there were more than one tournament in those states.
“For every tournament, I would travel by plane, accompanied by my family, and then we’d rent a car and hotel. Doing so was very pricey, but as long as I gave each tournament my best shot, it was well worth the expense and I’m grateful to my family for their support.”
Bolton not only competed in these tournaments, he excelled.
The first event where he placed in the top three was a Junior Championship tournament in Brigham City, Utah, in early July. That course also happened to be where he broke his lowest round records, shooting 5 under par (66) the first day and 3 under par (68) the second day. The third day shot a 4-over-par 75 but still managed to take second place.
“That was a great ‘kick start’ for me,” said Bolton. “A huge boost for my confidence.”
A week later, Bolton returned to South Florida to play a tournament in Boca Raton at Southwinds Golf Club for the GCJGF (Gold Coast Junior Golf Foundation) organization and kept the momentum going.
“Since I knew I had the potential to place in the top three, my mind-set was very positive,” Bolton said. “I hit continuous long, straight drives and pin-seeking approach shots. I was 3 over par going into the 18th hole (it was a par-70 course). and realized I had a good chance to place in the top three.”
But, as it turned out, he could do much better than the top three. Bolton was leading the golf tournament but would have to wait an excruciating two hours to see if he could finish it out.
“After I hit my tee shot left of the fairway into the thick rough and on a hill, the thunder siren rang for us to halt play and go to the clubhouse,” said Bolton, who then marked his ball and headed in. “When I walked into the clubhouse I saw the scoreboard and, to my surprise, the lowest score anyone had turned in yet was a 4-over-par 74.”
Since he was in the last group out, Bolton realized all he had to do was make a par on the 18th hole to win it.
“That two-hour rain delay was the most nerveracking wait period I’ve ever had in golf,” Bolton said. “I saw the family of the player who shot 74 anxiously staring at the scoreboard in case anyone would turn in a lower score than he did. I told myself I had the chance to do so.”
Finally, after those long two hours, Bolton headed back out to the course.
“I was staring at my 75-yard approach shot into a green protected by several bunkers and a lot of wind that had come into play, so it was a tough shot,” Bolton said. “I brought together my mental game, hit the approach shot to 15 feet from the hole, and two-putted for par. That 3-foot par putt to win it was probably the longest 3-footer I’ve ever had.”
With virtually no rest, the next day, Bolton played a tournament with DAGA (Dade Amateur Golf Association) on the International Links Golf Course.
“It was a very windy day and the course was full of water, Bolton said. “What really shined that day was my putting; I was sinking 40- and 50-foot par saves to stay in contention.”
To the tune of a 3-over-par 75, good enough for second place, missing a 5-foot putt on the last hole that would have tied him for first.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it this summer without the support of my parents and family,” Bolton said. “They were the ones funding these tournaments and coming along with me. None of these achievements could have happened without them.”
And if Pat Bolton would simply like to go to sleep and rest until the first-day school bell rings next Monday morning, could anybody blame him?