NMMI Sports Press
Two of last season’s top local high school golfers have decided to play next year for the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s golf team: Caleb Morton from Artesia High School, and Goddard High’s Deric Loving.
Both players qualified and competed at the 2016 NMAA State Championships for Class 5A, where Morton placed 4th and Loving finished tied for 19th.
“I knew about these kids from reading about them in the newspaper, and from talking to their coaches, whom I know well,” said new Bronco head coach Andy Robertson. “They are the best in the local area, and we want local kids – I think it’s beneficial to the Institute.”
Both Morton and Loving gave credit to their fathers for helping them pick up and learn the game of golf, and also their high school coaches for further honing their skills.
“My dad, Richard, taught me to play and I played every day, every summer, when I was younger,” said Morton. “It became a habit, and coach Kirkwood’s been helping, too, for six or seven years now”.
“My dad got me into golf and I also joined the First Tee program when I was younger, when Tom Bell was the coach,” said Loving, adding that Goddard coach Billy Carlyle has also helped improve his game.
When asked what their favorite part of the game was, both were quick to reply “The driver.” But while hitting John Daly-like shots off the tee is definitely fun, both players recognized the importance of the short game, and thought of this as being one the best parts of their game.
“It depends on the day,” said Morton. “Sometimes it’s the short game, sometimes it’s the tee shots.”
Loving responded with but one sure word for the best part of his game: “Wedges”.
Coach Robertson knows his two incoming freshmen will need the long game, the short game, and everything in-between to compete in the always-tough Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
“This is the best junior college golf conference in the nation. Probably five out of nine years, the national champion comes out of this conference,” said the coach. “If you can play in this conference, you’re going to make my job easier, which is to get you on to the next college program, to get your education paid for.”
Caleb and Deric seem to have a good grasp of how just tough next season’s competition will be and are looking forward to the new challenges, both in the classroom and on the course.
“Going to NMMI sets a good foundation for the future,” replied Morton. “I hope to get better every day, work harder, stay at it and never settle.”
Loving agreed that NMMI was a “great start”. “Play in these bigger tournaments against players with lots of talent helps prepare us for better competition.”
With the signing of Morton and Loving, the Bronco men’s golf roster sits currently at seven members, with two more possible additions.
“Having these kids, along with the five that are coming back, along with a couple more – one from Socorro and one from Korea – is going to make our team very competitive,” said coach Robertson. With nine players on the team, it’s going to take hard work to make that starting five and get to go on the trips for the tournaments.”