State Gazette Male Golfer of the Year: Dyersburg Trojan Ace Mahaffey

Sunday, June 9, 2024

JASON PEEVYHOUSE

jpeevyhouse@stategazette.com

Coming off a season which ended for the second straight year at the TSSAA Class A State Tournament in Sieverville, Dyersburg senior golfer Ace Mahaffey has been chosen as the State Gazette Male Golfer of the Year for the 2023-24 school year.

Mahaffey’s season and high school golf career came to a close in October as the Trojan senior finished strong with a good second day on the course in East Tennessee. His two-over-par final day put him in 25th place in the state.

Dyersburg Head Coach Kavin Carr said his senior provided great leadership on the course during the past two seasons.

“To be the region champion in consecutive years and then be able to go back to state – not only as an individual but as a team this year, that was the goal we had in mind,” Carr said. “We did not know necessarily how we were going to get there and we certainly didn’t expect the freshmen to play as important of a role as they did.

“Early on, Ace began to see that this was a possibility. Hanging that carrot out in front of the horse – that we could very likely go as a team. It just kind of began to gel and fall into place as the season progressed.”

In his second straight state tournament, Mahaffey improved in both overall finish (29th to 25th) and score (+25 to +20). As Carr pointed out, his improvement was not just limited to these two things.

“With Ace, his maturity on the course and his ability to put that last shot behind him and focus how to best strategically place the ball,” the Trojan head coach explained. “That way he’d be ready for the next shot.

“A lot of time golfers are wanting to get it up off the ground and get it into the air. He was literally pinpointing where he wanted to hit the ball. Especially when attacking the green – where he would be putting from next. When you can really dial in your game, you can be pretty dangerous out there.”

Carr said he felt those improvements Mahaffey made from the end of his junior year through his senior year really helped him close out his high school golf career strongly.

Carr added this was a big intangible for Mahaffey as he stresses to all his golfers the importance of leaving a bad shot behind them on the course. This was shown in his improvement from the first day of the state tournament to the second as he had a 20-stroke improvement on day two.

“Seeing Ace’s approach to it, he didn’t have his best day on his first day,” Carr recalled. “But he did not let that get to him. He came out and shot a really competitive second round and really helped things improve on that day.”

Carr added it made for a memorable year and a good close to the second day as he was able to use his composure to finish strongly.

“I think Ace really got that,” he explained. “I think he did a lot more as far as his approach. When he would play a practice round, he would see where he did and didn’t want to be on the course. He was really lining things out and had that mental focus to play it in his head before he was out there on the course.”

Mahaffey was able to be a stronger leader following his trip to the state tournament as the Dyersburg boys advanced to the state as a team for the first time in school history.

“Him being able to explain what the course was like before they even got up there, that was a tremendous help,” Carr recalled. “He did not seem to be really uptight about it. He was really loose. It seemed to seep on to the younger guys as they seemed less uptight about all of it.”

With his career over at Dyersburg High School, Carr feels Mahaffey’s legacy will be that he helped improve the golf program.

“I think it’s improved and helped a lot of other kids to also realize that they can play this sport as well as others just like Ace did,” Carr pointed out. “And, to be successful at all of those just like Ace did. So many times, we say if you really want to hone in on your game, you might want to just focus on just one sport.

“A lot of times that does tend to be true. Ace was just a natural at just about any and every sport that he picked up.”

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