By Kevin Wilson
Kevin Welch will bring his high school golf career to an end next month by heading west to Kirtland for the state tournament. Next year, he’ll transition to a college golf career east of Portales at West Texas A&M.
Welch, a senior for the Portales High golf team, signed a national letter-of-intent last week to play for the Buffaloes, beginning next season.
“It’s been a goal for me to play college golf since I was little. It’s close to home and they have a good program.”
Welch will join the Buffaloes next year, as the program will be in its fourth season. He realizes it will be much harder to make an impact, but he’s confident in his ability to take his game to the next level.
“The competition’s a lot harder — they’ve got at least seven or eight guys that could play on the traveling squad,” Welch said. “ I hope to make a really big impact and try to get the program known nationwide — try to come back with a national championship.”
Brad Borden has been the coach for the program’s duration at WTAMU.
Borden was contacted Saturday, but declined comment because he didn’t have confirmation that Welch’s letter was on file with the university. Coaches cannot comment on unsigned prospects, under NCAA rules.
Portales boys golf coach Greg Poynor feels that the Buffaloes got a great golfer and a great leader.
“ Not only does he lead by talking, but he leads by action,” Poynor said. “He works hard every day, he’s out there every day. If there’s something to work on, he’ll stay out there until it’s dark.”
Welch is working toward improving his game for May — he and his team have already qualified for the state tournament May 12-13 in Kirtland.
Welch admitted earlier this season that he would be disappointed if the team finished in third or lower.
“I want to win state individually, but more importantly I’d like to go out with a team championship,” Welch said. “Either one would be huge because Portales has never had an individual or team championship.”
Poynor thinks Welch has as much of an opportunity as anybody in the state, and feels he is simply a better golfer under pressure.
“He’s very competitive,” Poynor said. “He plays better with better people. Some players are great if they’re playing weak people, but Kevin’s better if he’s playing better people.”