Pint-Sized Freshmen Measure Up for North Hollywood
Hey, dudes, welcome to Wade and Ben’s Excellent Golf Adventure.
Wade Morris, 14, and Ben Stone, 14, are freshmen at North Hollywood High. People joke that they look like third-graders and get their clubs from Toys R Us.
Morris is 4 feet 8 and weighs 63 pounds. Stone is 4-10 and weighs 80 pounds. It’s painful watching them carry their oversized golf bags.
But the only fools are those who underestimate their ability.
“I get good bets,” Morris said. “I go out there and they’ll think I’m 7 years old, and I take all their money.”
Added Stone: “The clubs are as big as you are. They tell me that every day. It’s all about technique. You need to know exactly how to hit a ball and you need good teaching from the beginning of your golf career.”
Give Coach Steve Miller credit for not asking for their ID’s when they tried out.
“They’ve got to be the smallest golfers in the City [Section],” Miller said. “They’re small, but it doesn’t stop them from being good golfers. They get on the course and everything is equal.”
Morris is so passionate about golf that he once practiced his shots from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Woodley Golf Course.
“If I could, I’d stay there all night,” he said.
Morris was born in South Africa and is a nonstop talker and showman. He has spiked blond hair and could be mistaken for Bart Simpson.
“Do I look gangster, dude?” he asked Stone. “Tell Titleist I’ve got a great bag and I wouldn’t mind being sponsored.”
Morris spends so much time on the telephone talking with friends he could earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
“I don’t even know how he gets up in the morning,” said his mother, Brenda.
Morris is the No. 3 player for North Hollywood’s golf team. He can drive a ball 200 yards and thrives on his accuracy in the fairways. The positive impact golf has made on his life can be seen in his smile and enthusiasm.
“In my entire life, for three years now, that’s all I think about,” he said. “It keeps me out of trouble. Instead of being on the streets, I’m playing golf.”
Stone is a step behind Morris in golf, but he’s learning fast. He attends North Hollywood’s Highly Gifted Magnet, which means he has an IQ of at least 145. He’s in the mold of “MacGyver” when it comes to building contraptions.
“If [only] I could have Ben’s brain,” Morris said.
Added Miller: “We were working on chipping one day. [Ben’s] comment was, “Everything comes easy to me except this.’ ”
Not surprisingly, Morris and Stone are each hoping for a growth spurt.
“I’m going to be 6 feet 3, you watch,” Morris said.
A golfing teammate, Jared Fleisher, predicts the two will continue to surprise everyone.
“It’s amazing they can beat bigger guys,” Fleisher said. “They can compete and they can win.”
Now if only someone who isn’t 16 could figure out Wade and Ben’s vocabulary.
“They call everybody dude,” Miller said. “I think they call their parents dude. At least it’s a good four-letter word.”
There’s another Wade making a name for himself.
Wade Carr, younger brother of Kansas City Royals farmhand Tim Carr, has helped lead Westlake’s volleyball team to an 8-1 record. What would Westlake be without the Carr family? Younger brother Tyler is a sophomore pitcher for the unbeaten baseball team. . . .
Catcher Spencer Wyman of Camarillo has committed to California. He’s batting .531 with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in. He joins Conor Jackson of El Camino Real, Brian Horwitz of Crespi and Jeff Dragicevich of Westlake in choosing the Golden Bears. . . .
Watching Adam Leavitt of Thousand Oaks swing a bat proves that practice pays off. Nobody feared the second baseman last season, but he worked hard in the offseason and is batting .516 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. . . .
Former El Camino Real pitcher Randy Wolf started slowly in spring training for the Philadelphia Phillies, raising concerns he’d fail to earn a spot in the starting rotation.
But Wolf wasn’t worried. His last two outings have been excellent, including five shutout innings Thursday against the Blue Jays.
“I came to spring training in better shape than I have been in my life,” he said. “Every spring training my mechanics are off a little bit. Slowly, it gets back in a routine.” . . .
Basketball Coach Greg Hilliard of Harvard-Westlake can’t wait for the arrival of three incoming freshmen--5-10 Bryce Taylor, 6-2 Zach Woolridge and 6-3 Evan Harris. Taylor and Woolridge are the sons of former NBA players Brian Taylor, the Harvard-Westlake girls’ basketball coach, and Orlando Woolridge.
It remains to be seen if they are ready to play on the varsity as freshmen. But Taylor is projected to grow to 6-5 and Woolridge to 6-9. . . .
When will people learn not to test the arm of right fielder Cory Taillon of Westlake?
He threw out a runner at first base against Chaminade. He threw out a runner at second against Royal. He threw out a runner at home against Thousand Oaks. And on Friday, he threw out a runner at home against Moorpark.
Taillon, a converted catcher, gets overlooked because he’s only 5-10. But he’s a terrific player. . . .
Daniel Henson, 10, a second baseman in the Conejo Valley Little League, is one of the co-stars in the movie, “Frequency,” opening April 28. His autographs are still free.
Eric Sondheimer’s local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422 or firstname.lastname@example.org