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Southern Wesleyan suits L-E's Spaulding to a tee

Posted: March 22, 2011 1:15 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

CORY SPAULDING SIGNS a national letter-of-intent to play golf at Southern Wesleyan University. The Lugoff-Elgin senior is flanked by his father, Henry Spaulding, and his girlfriend, Deanna Stallings. Looking on from behind, from left, are L-EHS principal Tommy Gladden, SWU head golf coach Doug Wilkinson, L-E athletic director Scott Jones and L-E head golf coach Mike Robinson.

Fortunately for Lugoff-Elgin golf coach Mike Robinson, when Henry Spaulding and his son Cory were looking for a school for the younger Spaulding to enroll in after moving to South Carolina, they found a home and a good fit when they visited the West Wateree area of Kershaw County.

For six years, Cory Spaulding has occupied the number one slot for Robinson’s squad. Now, those days are dwindling as the season continues for the Demons.

Nobody appreciates Spaulding’s decision to become a Demon more than Robinson, who was beaming last week after Spaulding signed a national letter-of-intent to continue his academic and golf pursuits at Southern Wesleyan University.

"Cory has kind of put Lugoff-Elgin golf on the map," Robinson said. "When Cory first walked in here, we didn’t know a whole lot about him. His dad was looking for a school to put Cory in. I’m glad he chose Lugoff-Elgin because our golf program was kind of at a low point at the time.

"Cory’s work attitude and the way he handles himself around the course and his golf knowledge has been a big inspiration to kids who have come since he got here. It has led us to areas which we hadn’t been to, as far as golf is concerned."

Since Spaulding’s arrival, the Demons have been regulars in the AAA state tournament, until moving in to the AAAA ranks this year. And that season in which L-E did not qualify for the state event as a team, Spaulding played his way into the tourney as an individual performer.

In addition to playing for the Demons in the spring, Spaulding has played in junior tournaments throughout the Carolinas during his high school years. It was through these events which SWU head coach Doug Wilkinson learned of Spaulding.

"I looked at the scores of all the tournaments he had played in during the summer. He played in a lot of the Hurricane junior golf tournaments," said Wilkinson, who was on hand for the signing. "One of the things that I’m really looking for is kids who are playing in these junior tournaments and getting that tournament experience."

Once there was an interest from Wilkinson and the Warriors’ program, it was time for Spaulding to find out more about the school and the golf team. Obviously, he liked what he saw and heard during his recruitment.

"I went there for a preview day and I just loved their campus and all the people there. I also love the fact that it’s a Christian school," he said of the Central campus and institution.

"There’s a lot to be said for the golf program, it’s very functional. Doug is a really good coach. He helps with small problems like draws, fades and things like that. He has a lot of ideas for the future. He’s going to be a good coach to play for."

While Wilkinson could make some changes to Spaulding’s swing and other parts of his newest signees’ game, Robinson said he did not tinker with those things. That, said the L-E head coach, was left to Spaulding’s personal coach.

"If it’s not broke, you don’t fix it," Robinson said with a laugh.

"Cory’s been playing golf ever since I’ve known him and he plays year ‘round. Cory plays in every tournament that he can get into. Other than just to give him some drills that he can work on, I don’t mess with his swing. He goes to a golf pro who helps him with his swing, his putting and so forth. I stay hands-off unless they need help."

While assessing his own game, Spaulding said his short game and getting up and down around the greens have been his strengths for as long as he can remember. Once on the green, though, things have changes in recent weeks for the L-E senior.

A right-handed player, Spaulding has now switched to the left side when putting. He said he likes the change, which has helped his overall game while helping lower his scores.

"Right now, I’m putting left-handed," he said. "It started about a month ago. The main reason I did it was because it’s working for me

"(While putting right-handed) I was cutting across the ball; causing it to spin. The ball would go off-line every time I would putt. When I hit left-handed, I go straight back and straight through. I’ve been putting great, now."

As for how he sees Spaulding fitting in with next year’s team at SWU, Wilkinson projects that the 2009 Region 3-AAA player of the year will make an immediate impact on the program and join fellow freshman Zach Casto as one of the Warriors’ top five players once they arrive on campus.

Being a starter will be nothing new for Spaulding after six years of being at the top of the ladder at L-E. But, Wilkinson said, the college game is played at a different pace and level as that of high school.

"We play two tournament dates and a practice round date, which gives you three rounds in a row. That’s a little bit different than what they’re used to in high school and playing nine-hole matches," Wilkinson said. "That goes back to the kids having tournament experience and being used to that grind."

Having played against college-age and older players in his out-of-season tournaments, Spaulding said he is used to playing against players older than himself. He looks at this next move as "just switching teams, basically."

But, he was quick to point out, one of the biggest changes in his Demon career has been becoming a better teammate. That is something which has evolved as he has matured.

"I’ve been developing more as a team player and helping out my team rather than being an individual and not doing anything with the team," he said. "I’ve been having a lot of fun with my team; it’s a lot of history which I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

"All the experience that I have gone through is going to help me in the future."

Off the course, Wilkinson said one of the biggest challenges for Spaulding and all freshmen, for that matter, is being able to handle being on their own for the first time while finding the right blend between academics, athletics and social life.

"The transition from the high school atmosphere to the college atmosphere is always the biggest change for freshmen," he said. "Now, they’re on their own and it’s not as structured. They have gaps in their schedule and they need to be able to use that down time to focus on academics and athletics at the same time."

As for Spaulding, he said he is ready to make the switch from high school to college player.

"It’s very exciting. I made the decision about two and half weeks ago," he said with a grin. "The coach stuck with me the entire time and he gave me some figures that I really loved and I loved the school so much."

One person who is not so eager to let Spaulding go is Robinson, who said it will be strange when practice begins next year and Cory Spaulding is not there.

"That’s a commodity that I’ll find out how much I’ll miss next year when he’s gone," Robinson said while looking ahead to next season. "Every time he goes out there, I know that he’s going to be one of our low scorers. You know he is going to give us a chance to win the match when you have someone like him that we can put out there every day."


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