Nick Hurd has been a pillar of optimism in an otherwise rebuilding season for Springfield golf.

Nick Hurd has been a pillar of optimism in an otherwise rebuilding season.

The junior Springfield golfer is one of two returners to this season’s team, which finished regular season play last week with three wins after finishing second in the Portage Trail Conference last season.

“He’s immensely important to our team,” said Jack Morgan, Springfield boys golf coach. “He took a major leadership role this year. To be honest, he has probably been one of the better leaders I’ve had at Springfield – basketball and golf-wise.”

Morgan was previously the head coach of the Springfield boys basketball team, but now only coaches golf. While that has freed up time on his schedule, Morgan still faces the uphill battle of coaching a program with only six golfers – four of which are new.

“Even on days off, [Hurd] would schedule for players to meet him at the driving range or golf course, and they’d play without me there,” Morgan said. “He has been very, very instrumental in getting the newcomers to continue to like playing golf, and get them to have the passion to get better.”

Hurd’s hard work hasn’t been without its rewards. He was just named First-Team All-PTC and finished third in voting for Player of the Year. On Tuesday, Hurd will get his shot to go even further at the Sectional Tournament.

“If he plays well…he’ll have a chance to get through Sectionals,” Morgan said.

He’ll be joined by his teammates – seniors Zac Fox and Tyler Ross, junior Trenton Chaplin, and freshmen Jacob Williams and Matthew Jordan.

Ross is the team’s only other returner from last year’s squad. Fox played his sophomore year, but not last season.

Chaplin, Williams and Jordan are in their first seasons playing high school golf.

“We only had six players, but they actually improved immensely from the beginning of the year to the end,” Morgan said. “At one point we had [Hurd], who would shoot in the 30s, and the other five would be in the 60s.

“The others were in the 50s by the end of the year, so we made some improvements. That was part of our goal at the beginning of the year – to continue to improve.”

Ross, in particular, showed significant improvement as of late.

“I told him I wouldn’t be surprised if he shoots 45 at sectionals because the last two weeks he has really gotten better and made improvements,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s team may have graduated many of the golfers that helped it to a PTC runner-up finish last year, but the future is here and already showing improvements.

“From our perspective we’re trying to get the kids acclimated to play tournament golf and get better for the following years,” Morgan said.

Behind Hurd’s leadership, the outlook is bright to do just that.