Player Profile: Eleven-year-old Connor Campbell

11-year-old Connor CampbellBELLEAIR - Sometimes, when Pat McClanan-Shriver watches Connor Campbell golf, she forgets that he's just 11 years old.

This 135-pound, five-foot-one fifth grader hits better shots than most golfers twice his age, but it's how the junior golfer holds himself on the course that impresses the teaching pro at Belleview Biltmore Golf Club.

"Some kids aren't the same caliber as Connor, but he hangs with them and plays with them even though he could be playing with better players,” McClanan-Shriver said. “He never complains though. He plays with anyone and even helps the golfers with less skill. “He's like a role model. He's very mature for his age, and I'm very proud that he's that mature and not like many childish junior golfers his age.

"Connor can drive the ball, he can hit great wedge shots and he rarely three putts,” she added. “He's just well rounded."

Connor has been golfing since he was five. That's when his father, Greg, started to notice that his swing was fluid and solid for a kid his age. So Greg went out and got him a starter set and hooked him up with McClanan-Shriver at Belleview.

Despite Connor playing soccer on the side, Greg felt golf would be a perfect way for his son to be involved in sports and avoid serious injury.

"Being a paranoid dad, I do worry about injuries to my kids," Greg said. "I have a lot invested in Connor playing golf and he's just a well-rounded athlete, but you can see he's got the size and muscle already."

As Connor grew, he needed new clubs. That's where Bill Shriver, Pat's husband, came in. He custom built all the clubs for Connor, including an adult-sized Ping Rature V2 driver that gives Connor distance and control off the tee.

"Any kid can have a world-class game, but clubs that don't fit right," McClanan-Shriver said. "Some parents treat clubs like clothes and get them clubs two years too old for them and think they'll grow into them and that fouls up a kid's swing technique."

Bill Shriver constantly upgrades Connor's clubs as he grows, including, as of late, his putter, which needed to be lengthen and have some weight added.

His all-around skills have given him some impressive scores, too. Connor has shot a 37 on nine holes and a 73 on 18 for personal best.

"I like to be all about golf, but I like other sports, too," Connor said. "Golf though has a challenge and I like that a lot. I like putting the best because you have to aim and that's when you get it in the hole.”

Those challenges have taken him to various local, national and international tournaments. Connor has played at famous Pinehurst Golf Club in North Carolina five years in a row and has even played in Scotland in the European junior golf tournaments.

"We get to travel as a family and watch him play," Greg said. "I know that he wants to take it to college and play there and play as far as he can."

Greg is also Connor's caddie, so he's there to guide Connor, though the younger Campbell has more golf experience, and skill, than the elder Campbell.

Greg realizes this though, and Pat is glad because "(Greg) lets us coach and then (Greg) helps coach what we're trying to teach (Connor)."

"It's not easy when your dad is the caddie, but Connor realizes that he is the one pulling the trigger on all his shots," Pat said. "They work very well together and have a great system."

Connor close up

According to Pat, Connor has been a work in progress, but one that has shown tremendous promise. However, Pat and Greg and taking their time with Connor, letting him marinate as a golfer and develop into his full potential.

As time goes on, Pat will relinquish the reins to let him become a full golfer by the time he's almost done with high school and ready to play for a college.

"If they peak at age nine, where does the kid go from there?," Pat added. "It's tough to groom a good player and a lot of things have to fall into place. We've been playing golf every single Wednesday afternoon since he was six. That's just right for any junior golfer."

Pat McClanan-Shriver raves about Connor and his skills on the course. She sings his praises as Connor works diligently at every drill she throws at the young golfer.

And Connor just takes it modestly, then lines up another tee shot and sends it down the fairway.

"It's something to be proud of (to be a good golfer and have my coach think well of me)," Connor said. "It's a compliment and I just want to be a good golfer, the best I can be when I play."

Mike Camunas can be reached at mike.camunas@gmail.com

 

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