The Young Gentleman’s Golfer

Story by Marissa Trusty

Golf is a game of integrity and honesty. It’s a gentleman’s game. That’s one of the first things I remember learning about it.” Jay Trusty, 14, of Danville. Trusty has been playing the game for as long as he can remember – literally since he was in his diapers.

When he was just two years old, his father, Jim Bob, bought him a set of plastic clubs for Christmas. Jay loved them.

“He spent hours and hours hitting plastic clubs in the house. Yes, in the house. He’d hit from the living room to the den, and if he got it over the den couch, that was considered a good shot,” his father recalls.

From the living room and the plastic clubs and balls, Jay moved into real clubs
and balls when he turned three. He had a little set of “Tiger Champs” kids’ golf
clubs and spent his days playing in the front yard with a flagstick and cup set up for him some 50 yards away.

Jay hasn’t stopped playing golf since. His first birdie came at the young age of four, and he now has more than 100 trophies, plaques, and medals from tournaments. The evidence of his success is plain to see. He won his first tournament when he was five in 2003 at the Pepsi Little Peoples’ Golf Championships in Quincy, Ill. The tournament brought together over 900 junior golfers from 35 states and 16 countries — intimidating competition, especially for a junior golfer’s first tournament.

I found it on the internet — five and under was the age group,” his dad remembers. The elder Trusty had been taking Jay with him to Chamberlyne, their home course which is only about a mile down the road.

“I was teeing him up from about 100 yards out and he was sticking it on the green. I found this tournament and I thought he could do it. I told his mom and she said, ‘Seriously?’” So, he and Jay made the seven-hour trip to Quincy, leaving Jay’s mother and sister Marissa at home because she had to attend cheerleading camp.

“We get up there and they announce you… ‘up next on the tee from Danville, Arkansas, Jay Trusty.’ My heart was pounding,” his father laughed.

Jay had no idea how to keep score yet, so he was oblivious to where he stood during the first round of the tournament. But, at the start of the final round, he teed off in the last flight, which he knew was traditionally held for leaders. Sitting two strokes back from the leader, he caught and tied him in just two holes.

“I can remember talking to Dad on the phone while I was at cheerleading camp,” his sister recalled. “He was telling me Jay didn’t even know he had tied the leader, didn’t know the score. Dad said Jay looked at him once and said, “Dad, I’m playing pretty good, right?”

His father told him he was playing real good. It came down to the last hole and Jay wound up winning, not only winning his division, but setting a couple of records in the process.

After playing in the two-day, ten-hole tournament, Jay posted a course record 38 for his age group. His one-over par score of 17 for five holes on day two was also a new low round record. Following the tournament, KATV, Channel 7 of Little Rock recognized the local junior champion for his accomplishments at the Pepsi Little Peoples’ tournament by naming him the ‘Super 7 Superkids Athlete of the Week.’

Two years later, Jay would find himself back in the hunt at Pepsi Little Peoples’ yet again, this time competing in the 6-7 age group. He entered the final round one shot out of the lead. After another solid round, Jay would wait on the leaders to determine his fate, finishing one hole behind him. With the leaders dropping a stroke, there would be a three-way tie, resulting in a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner. On the first playoff hole, Jay would two-putt for par and the victory.

Another of Jay’s favorite tournaments is the BFI-Exxon Future Tour Championships in Greenville, Miss, in which he competed for the first time in 2004. The two-day tournament attracted nearly 300 junior golfers from 25 states, Canada, and South Africa and is considered one of the premier junior tournaments in the South. After day one, Jay, then age six, found himself tied for fourth place as he shot a 4 over par. On day two, Jay shot 1 under par and wound up in a playoff for second place. It took two playoff holes but Jay defeated Bryce Burke of Johannesburg, South Africa, on the second hole. Jay made a birdie putt to end it.

Another highlight of day two was on a par 4 hole; Jay carded his first ever eagle. After a good drive, he holed a 25-yard shot from the fairway with his pitching wedge.

In 2006, Jay was featured on The Golf Channel after a runner-up performance at the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip, and Putt National Championship at the Celebration Golf Club held outside Orlando, Fla. Jay had qualified (for the national championship) starting in Little Rock, then he went to a regional in Louisiana where he was in a drive, chip, and putt competition against golfers from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. He won there to advance to Orlando.

Being the national championship, all expenses were paid. They even included tickets to Disney World so the whole family went. Jay wound up going there and finishing second out of 24 finalists.

The Danville freshman admits his favorite win — the win he is most proud of thus far — came in 2008 at the South Central PGA Junior Championships in Owasso, Okla. Jay shot one of his best rounds of golf during the tournament.

“I shot a 66, six under par with a 33-33 each day,” he said. “I had an eagle, six birdies, and two bogeys. I had to qualify for the tournament and played against kids from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. That 66 was a memorable round.” He defeated 29 other junior golfers in the tournament.

The goal of every junior golfer is to play in the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association.) Known as the professional golf tour for juniors, players must qualify with top performances at regional and national events to gain entry on the tour. AJGA alumni include well-known golf phenomenons Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mayhan, and Sergio Garcia. In June of 2011, with a fourth place finish in the Texas-Oklahoma Golf Tournament in Wichita Falls, Texas, Jay earned Junior All- Star exempt status for boys 15 years old and under on the AJGA circuit.

Now a freshman in high school, Jay is able to be a member of the Danville High School golf team. This year the Danville Little John boys’ golf team took first place in the 2A-5 conference tournament which was held at Chamberlyne Country Club. Jay took first place, winning the individual district title with an 18-hole round of 75. This win qualified Jay and the Little Johns for the 2A state tournament at Centennial Valley in Conway. The team finished fourth in the tournament, and Jay finished third with a 74, one stroke behind two seniors.

Jay expects golf to be a part of his future, and hopes to play golf in college.

Jay does have a life outside of golf, and a pretty busy one at that. He attends First Freewill Baptist Church in Russellville and enjoys being a part of the Youth Group. Jay loves all sports and also excels at basketball. He played for the Danville Junior High Little Johns’ basketball team this season, and averaged 18 points a game.

Being from Danville and going to church in Russellville, Jay has so much support from so many people around the river valley. And he knows one day the other sports will come to an end, but golf is the sport he can play the rest of his life.

 

 

 

 

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