During the course of a round of golf, Joliet West senior Devyn Boswell has discovered there will be times when even the best player’s swing goes awry.
He also has discovered it is OK if a putt doesn’t drop, a tee shot misses the fairway or a tuft of wind blows a lob wedge off course.
He has gained a unique perspective from growing up in a household where his little brother, Trevor, 11, is afflicted by Asperger syndrome. His part-time summer job opened his eyes, too.
Until recently, Boswell worked with special needs children at the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Center. He was employed on a part-time basis as a camp counselor by the park district through much of June and July.
He regularly was inspired by the triumphs of his new-found friends, each one of those triumphs ranking at least on a par with his victory in the 16-18 year-old boys division of the Joliet Junior Amateur golf tournament at Woodruff. Some far surpassed the act of him keeping his appointed rounds.
“Well, my little brother has special needs, so I kind of grew up with it,” Boswell said. “Working with the kids is pretty much an everyday thing for me. I’m used to a lot of the problems they face. It’s rewarding—a lot more rewarding than just coming out here and playing golf. I’d rather be working with the kids than playing golf.”
Boswell plays golf very well, mind you. He nearly carded an ace on the 16th hole Monday at Woodruff, a short par-4, and counted his subsequent eagle as the springboard to an opening-round 76.
He followed that up with a 77 on Tuesday. He finished with a two-day, 36-hole total of 153, good for a 15-shot victory over Joliet West teammate Isaiah Smith (78-90-168). The two were paired in the leaders’ group at the front of the pack.
The pressure of the situation did not overwhelm Boswell. How could it?
He considers himself lucky. He is able to play golf and trade laughs with friends during a round, no matter how heated the competition. He has witnessed the pain and suffering of how the other half lives.
“We take a lot for granted,” Boswell said. “Those guys—they do everyday activities. It’s just a lot more work for them. So, coming out here and doing this, for them, it would be one of the biggest things in their lives.
“So, it definitely makes you put it in perspective.”
Golf is described as a gentleman’s game. Boswell has discovered the game is much more difficult than it looks—or sounds. Listen up the next time someone you know attempts to give a lesson to a beginner. Go ahead, hit a small white ball into a small white cup.
Nothing to it, right?
Woodruff can mess with the most experienced player’s psyche, the layout short and narrow. The trick is to keep your ball from running underneath one of the trees lining the fairways on the front nine or from settling in the creek that crosses a number of holes on the back side.
“It’s a lot shorter and it’s a lot tighter than some other courses,” Boswell said. “You’ve got to hit an iron off a lot of tees. It almost sets up like a ‘major’ course for the junior kids because there is such a premium on hitting fairways. If you’re not in the fairway, you’re not going to make par.”
In the boys 13-15 age group, Lincoln-Way East freshman Victor Perez shot rounds of 73 and 76 to rule the roost. He finished at 149—the low man in the tournament. Lockport sophomore Gehrig Hollatz placed second with his 75-85-160.
In the girls division, Oak Forest’s Jacqueline Pytko emerged the winner with a two-day total of 93-95-188. Joliet Central’s Milena Singletary placed second 109-98-207.
A field of between 20-25 players competed in the junior amateur, first launched by Woodruff general manager Kirk Blakney in 2010. He hopes to grow that number in coming years through word-of-mouth advertising.
“Ultimately my goal is to have this thing almost as big as the Joliet Amateur is at Wedgewood. At Wedgewood, they have 180 players every year. And I think we can get this to where we have 100-plus players.”
Moving forward, Blakney couldn’t find a better ambassador for the tournament than Boswell. He is a champion in every sense of the word.