Morrison takes home-school route to scholarship
Mon. June 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | By Tommy Deas
Will Morrison works on his putting at Indian Hills Country Club on Monday. Morrison received a scholarship to play golf at the University of West Alabama as part of the school’s first golf team. (Photo by Erin Nelson)
TUSCALOOSA | Will Morrison gave up a year of high school to earn a college golf scholarship.
More specifically, Morrison elected to go the home-school route for his senior year, leaving Hillcrest High School and taking dual-enrollment classes at Shelton State Community College to give him more time to concentrate on his golf game. He recently became part of the University of West Alabama’s inaugural signing class for its start-up NCAA Division II golf program.
“I decided to be home-schooled because it benefitted me with the golf, because I had a lot more time,” Morrison said. “I was behind in tournament play. I figured doing home school I would have a lot more time so I could catch up.
“I wanted to play college golf since the eighth grade, but I never did anything about it, didn’t practice enough. Doing this, I’ve seen so much improvement.”
The 17-year-old son of Joe and Angie Morrison took golf lessons from Ol’ Colony professional John Gray — paid for by Will Morrison’s uncle, Charles Renfroe — which the young golfer said has helped him shave two or three strokes off his average round. He also found a job that further helped him improve, working in the pro shop at Indian Hills Country Club.
“I get the privilege of playing on Mondays when the course is closed,” he said. “I had some free time, so I thought I might as well make some money working at a golf course.”
Morrison also spent a lot of time playing with two of his best friends, Tyler Hitchner and Jake DeZoort, who, like Morrison, play events on the Southern Junior Golf Tour.
“Those are both (Division I level) golfers, so that helped my game,” he said. “It brings out the competitor in me. I’d rather be competitive. It makes me work harder.”
Morrison credits Tuscaloosa County High golf coach Chris Wright with helping him land the scholarship at UWA.
“He told me about UWA starting a golf team,” Morrison said. “He told them about me and helped me get a spot on the team.”
Adam Buie, UWA’s coach, said he first saw Morrison play in an SJGT event.
“Will is a regular on that, and he’s posted some really good scores and that’s how I came across him,” Buie said. “I knew he had enough ability to play at the college level, Division II.”
Buie said he was looking as much at Morrison’s approach to the game as he was at his scores.
“The No. 1 thing I’m looking at is their attitude, how they handle if they hit a bad shot; if it carries on for a couple of more holes or if they put it behind them and move on to the next shot,” Buie said. “Will definitely shows all those capabilities. His attitude is very good on and off the golf course.”
Morrison’s home-school experience was also something that the UWA coach saw as a positive. Through his classes at Shelton State, Morrison will enter UWA as a sophomore academically but as a freshman eligibility-wise.
“His grades were another point for me,” Buie said. “He’s very good in the classroom as well.”
Morrison began playing on the Hillcrest varsity team when he was still in eighth grade, so he knows what it’s like to compete against older, more experienced players. He expects that experience to help him make the transition to UWA, which will field a men’s team with seven freshmen and three transfer students.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of the first golf team at UWA,” Morrison said. “I’m hoping with the talent we have coming in that we should be a strong team for four years.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.