Arroyo Grande High golfer Jack Avrit got the experience of a lifetime last fall.
Along with playing in some of the top junior tournaments around the country, Avrit paired up with Mark O’Meara — a Masters Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member — to win the Pro-Junior title at the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. The team opened up with an 11-under 61 and went on to win with a score of 20-under.
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“Jack played great. He’s 16 years old and a very, very good player,” O’Meara said in a news release. “He’s a junior in high school and I was impressed with his game.”
Avrit continued his run when the high school golf season started, with scores hovering right around par all year. He helped lead the Arroyo Grande golf team to an undefeated PAC 8 title. But he had some familiar help — his younger brother, Owen.
Golf is a lonely sport most of the time.
Duck hooks and missed putts fall squarely on the shoulders of the person holding the club. But for a few months in the spring, junior golfers get some support.
Arroyo Grande freshman Owen has enjoyed the change.
“I really like having a partner on the course that I can talk to, ask about yardages, to help read putts,” Owen said. “It kind of gives you conformation, or it gives you another point of view on each shot.”
As a bonus, he gets to play with his older brother.
“They root for each other as brothers, which doesn’t necessarily always happen,” Arroyo Grande coach Jeff Byars said.
“It is only competitive when we make games out of it, like put five bucks on a shot or something,” Owen said. “If we are just doing a practice round or something, we are just rooting for the other guy to do as best as he can. It’s really awesome.”
Jack said the gloves come off outside of high school matches when competing in junior tour events.
The brothers have fed off each other, and Jack has been one of the best Eagles golfers since he joined the team as a freshman. When Byars learned he would also get to coach Owen, he was excited. So far, he has met and exceeded expectations, Byars said, drawing from the lessons passed down by Jack.
“There’s a level of connection when we can discuss things about the team at home,” Owen said.
“I know whether he is playing ahead of me or behind me, I have complete faith in him to play well,” Jack said.
The resemblance in looks, scores and swings have been evident this season. Twice they have shot the same score, and four more times they have been separated by four shots or less.
They might not be keeping track, but Jack does hold the edge this season in low rounds, 5-2.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
As polished as the Avrit brothers are, they are still kids playing arguably the most frustrating sport on the planet.
In Arroyo Grande’s final round of the regular season on Thursday at San Luis Obsipo Country Club, Jack’s anger got the better of him. Scoring was made difficult by relentless 20 mile per hour winds, and the round left him shaking his head more than a dog trying to get dry. Following a three-putt on the par 3, 15th hole, he tossed his golf ball into a nearby pond.
His 11-over 83 was his worst round of the season by seven strokes.
“On days like today, you gotta have a lot of control over your game if you want to play well,” Jack said after the round. “Mental control is one of the biggest parts of it.”
After he sent his ball to sleep with the fishes, Jack showed poise and his ability to recover from trouble on the following two holes. Twice his ball came to rest in the roots of trees, and twice he was able to save par with nifty chips. Those shots ended up being huge as Arroyo Grande ended up winning by just four strokes.
“Everyone has bad rounds, and I have had my fair share,” Jack said. “It is just about forgetting about it. I know a lot of it wasn’t even me today, a lot of shots that will be good in CIF weren’t good today, but then again I have to prepare for the conditions to possibly be like this, you never know. It is good practice either way.”
Owen appeared a little more calm on the course. On Tuesday, he seemed to laugh off bad breaks, chalking the playing conditions as “close to impossible” on the way to an 83 of his own.
“Owen’s maturity for a freshman is really unbelievable,” Byars said. “His knowledge for the game and his tournament readiness as a freshman is really been great.”
A couple of times during Thursday’s windy match, the wind called for Jack to hit a fade. But with his natural shot being a draw, it resulted in a few wayward shots.
Working on shot-shaping will be Jack’s main focus this week as he and the rest of the golfers around the PAC 8 prepare for CIF Individual Qualifiers on Tuesday at La Purisma Golf Course in Lompoc.
For Owen, it’s on the greens.
“If you look at my round today, the shots where I really lost it was putting,” Owen said on Thursday. “I really think that if I get my putting down and dial it in, that I will do really well in CIF.”
There is little doubt Jack will be there to offer advice and let Owen know what to expect in the postseason. And with plenty of skill and big-tournament experience to lean on, expect to keep hearing the Avrit name.