By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
DANVILLE -- The difference between the elite in the Professional Golf Association tour and the weekend duffers is the ability to mentally play out a round despite one bad shot ending any hope of victory.
For Danville senior Austin Renz, one bad shot kept him from getting a medal at the state championship tournament. But the four-year starter for coach Ron Kanaskie once again carded rounds in the 60s and improved from 18th to an 11th-place tie at states and he also helped lead the Ironmen to an undefeated season and back-to-back District 4 Class AA championships.
For those accomplishments, Renz was named the The Daily Item's Golfer of the Year.
Renz is also a starter on the basketball team. His sister Amber is a standout sophomore basketball player as well.
Renz noted the first time he picked up a club was when he was 8 or 9, but that he didn't start playing competitive golf until he was 12.
"Golf used to be fun for me," he said. "I would go out and play and hit the ball and enjoy myself."
Renz, the son of Wayne and Kim Renz of Danville, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play golf at St. Francis College of Pennsylvania.
"He enjoys the practices and spends tons of hours practicing rather than playing," Kanaskie said. "He always prepares himself well and he's willing to go the extra mile and that's what separates him from a lot of high school golfers."
Renz carded a 66 last year, his lowest round in his four years on the varsity level and he shot a 68 this year at the Bucknell University Golf Club.
He had the lowest stroke average in the Heartland Athletic Conference and was the District 4 Class AA boys champion the last two years.
"My freshman year was a big year," he said. "I played in a couple of tournaments on my own and I had a great freshman season. I had a shot to make to regionals and I just fell short. That made me take notice that I had a shot to become a great player."
He was one stroke from earning a medal at states this year.
"I had a couple of bad shots at the end," he said. "The last five holes are a tough stretch on the course and I had one bad shot (on hole 13) and the course just penalizes you from coming back."
"I played a great 30 holes and the final six holes got me; it happens," he continued. "You just have to move on from there and learn from it. Hopefully it will help me in the future."
Renz had a double-bogey on the 13th hole and he had a shot at a birdie on the 14th green, but ending up three-putting on the hole.
"The biggest area the I have improved on since my freshman year was the mental aspect of the game," Renz said. "Mentally, I got really good at the fact that I could keep on playing and keeping a level head about myself and bounce back from tough breaks."
His stroke average this year was 71.4.
"Austin does very well when it comes to course management," Kanaskie said. "Rarely does he get in trouble. He manages himself from green to tee rather than tee to green."
One area that always seems to be the Achilles heel of the weekend golfer is the short game. That's not the case for Renz.
"Part of our practice regimen is practicing the short game and that's been a hallmark of Danville golf. Austin does that extremely well."
Renz is still looking for his first career hole-in-one.
"It was a great experience, the four years taught me a lot about myself," he said of his high school career. "The biggest thing is that golf is not an individual sport, that's the biggest thing coach Kanaskie taught me. That's hard for people to understand. I have great memories from the past four years."
Kanaskie, in his 24th year as golf coach at Danville noted that Renz was the consummate golfer and that he understands and is committed to the dedication that is necessary to succeed in the sport.
"He's not only willing to make that commitment, he's an example of that dedication and he enjoys doing it."
n Coach of the Year
With a 25-0 mark and the District 4 Class AA championship for the second straight year, Danville's Ron Kanaskie was named The Daily Item's Golf coach of the Year.
The team won the district title by 16 strokes and it has lost just one match in the past three years.
"We started the season with a team meeting at Frosty Valley (Country Club) on the first day of practice and we set short-term and long-term goals," Kanaskie said. "We thought it was a realistic goal to win the league and an ambitious goal to repeat as District 4 champions. Winning districts is tough but to repeat is quite an accomplishment."
By early September, the Ironmen were rolling through the HAC-II undefeated.
"The kids were committed all season," Kanaskie added. "The kids did not have a bad practice all season and as long as I've been around athletics, that's an accomplishment."
Kanaskie noted that seniors Kyle Brady and Zach Schutter had very good years while others stepped up to fill in for Schutter who was injured in a swimming accident in late August and was lost for a couple of matches.
Kanaskie also had praise for junior Mark Mullery, whom he said had a stellar year, and Gavin Geiger, a freshmen, who is a player to watch over the next three years.
"We've have some great golf teams over the years here at Danville, but this team is one of the better teams in the history of Danville golf," Kanaskie said.