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Working hard toward his dreams

Published Oct. 1, 2005

For many people, dreams come from the local convenience store.

They stop, buy some gas and pick up a couple of lottery tickets on the way out the door. Their idea of riches is to wait until 11 p.m. Saturday when they compare their six numbers with the six that were just randomly drawn from a big pot in Tallahassee.

Hernando High golfer Blair Hensley doesn't think that way.

Oh, he might play the lottery once in a while, but that's not how he plans to realize his dreams.

The Leopard senior's trip to contentment includes 14 to 15 hours a week working on his putting, chipping and pitching, and another hour every day driving range balls. Luck is good, but Hensley is looking more at hard work and dedication to get him where he's going.

"He works real hard at it," said Hernando boys golf coach John Rhoden. "He's always the first one out here to practice, and after the team leaves he's still here. Plus he practices on the weekends. Because of that, he has the best short game going."

That short game is more than a byproduct of long hours at Brooksville Golf and Country Club; it also has a lot to do with a newly constructed swing.

"Total renovation," Hensley said. "From the ground up, everything's new. After swinging one way all my life, the last four months I've been working with a club pro and we've just changed everything."

It is because of that new swing and Hensley's adjustment to it that he is now in a minor slump _ that is if you consider shooting 40 or 41 for nine holes a slump.

Hensley does, and for now at least, he's just waiting it out and trying to stay consistent while the new swing works into a rhythm.

"Right now I'm kind of on a bubble," Hensley said. "It seems like I shoot 40s and 41s every time out. The last couple of matches I've just been trying to get a little confidence and start striking the ball a little better."

While he may be on a bubble, as a team Hernando seems to be running bubble-free. Last week the Leopards shot a 169 during a dual match for one of their lowest scores in more than two years.

Leading the way that day was No. 2 player Ricky Wilson, followed by Hensley with 41, Ricky McCleary with 42 and Justin Henry with 47, more than five strokes under his average.

But until conference and district meets, it's all practice and Hensley hopes by the time those matches come he will be back into the 30s.

Those are the scores he thinks it will take to lead him to college _ Manatee Community College and Brevard Community College are his top choices _ and then to his dream of working within the world of golf.

"Golf is my life," Hensley said. "I'm up here every day, on the weekends, whenever I get a chance. My ultimate goal is to be a professional on tour, but I want to go to school, get my business degree, then get a golf course management degree, and then go get an architecture degree.

"That way I can do anything I want that has anything to do with golf."

That's why when Hensley drives up to Brooksville Golf and Country Club, he doesn't think about lottery tickets at the convenience stores. He knows the only green that's going to get him where he's going is a putting green.

"Hopefully I can live out the rest of my life on a golf course," Hensley said.