Southampton native ends Chowan fall season on good note

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wrapping up the fall golf season earlier this month, Chowan University sophomore Billy Britton picked up his first win in a college tournament.

Billy Britton plays golf at Chowan University. -- SUBMITTED

Billy Britton plays golf at Chowan University. — SUBMITTED

The Southampton High School graduate shot an average of 76 in the Sleepy Hole Invitational hosted by Elizabeth City State University in Suffolk. The score helped boost the Hawk golfers as a team to a 4-point victory over Virginia State University, 324 to 238. It was the program’s second team win in its history.

“We had to have two freshmen come up and play for us because two of our seniors were sick that day,” Britton said. “They stepped up and played well. We ended up taking one of their scores. It was a good win.”

As far as his individual performance, Britton said he thought he played solid.

“It was a tough day out there,” he said. “It was really windy, and cold. I think it was around 40 degrees, and there was a lot of wind blowing off the river. But it felt good to be the lowest scorer and end the season that way.”

At 76, he was 4 over par. But after talking to the course pro, he felt better.

“Anybody who has ever played the Sleepy Hole golf course in a little bit of wind will say that 76 is a pretty good round,” Britton said. “I know the course pro, and he said if you go out there and break 80, then you have played pretty well.

“I thought I kept my mistakes to a minimum and didn’t make any big numbers, so I kept it like I wanted to.”

As a sophomore, Britton said he’s finding his stride in college golf. He’s No. 2 on the team so far this fall with an average round of 78.

“It’s not where I want to be, but hopefully it’ll come down a little bit in the spring,” he said. “Compare it to my freshman year, and I’m playing a lot better. I think this year I have gotten a lot better in my scoring.

“I haven’t really had a good round, but I haven’t had what I’d call a blow up round either.”

During his freshman campaign, he’d go out and have a decent round and follow that up with a bad round. Or he’d do it the other way.

So, during the offseason, working at a golf course, he’d practice every evening or play a few rounds with friends, while also participating in Virginia State Golf Association events.

“Practicing for the sport of golf is huge,” he said. “Golf is a timing game, and if your timing isn’t on, the ball can go anywhere. To be sharp in golf mentally and physically, you have to practice.”

Britton decided to go to Chowan because it’s local, and he knew several people on the team.

“It’s a good fit,” he said. “One of the things I like most is just all of the trips with the guys. We all have a good time and get along well.”

While there, he’s majoring in sports management with the intent of running a golf course one day as a PGA golf pro.

“I’d love to be one of those guys who is on TV, but I am also looking at something that I know I can do,” Britton said. “If something happens,” and it clicks, then great.”

It wasn’t all bad last year, though, as the team was able to bring home the CIAA Northern Division last year, though ultimately Virginia State University prevailed in taking the conference’s championship in Petersburg at the Dogwood Trace Golf Course. Britton finished in 14 place amongst the 6-team golf tournament, with a score of 85.

This year, he’s hoping for a different outcome.

“In the spring, I think we can win the championship,” Britton said. “I think we are a lot better this year.”

College golf has been different from high school. One, the competition is a lot better.

“You aren’t going to be the best player on the course,” Britton said. “You kind of have to accept that you are competing with people that are just as good, if not better than you are.”

But having better competition also makes you better.

“Since high school, I’ve been working on my mental game a lot,” he said. “I stay more focused on the golf course than I used to. I spend more time thinking through shots rather than just hitting it.”

Golf is his favorite sport because of the challenge it brings.

“Golf is different than anything else you can do in sports,” Britton said. “Once you think you understand golf, once you think you’ve got it, you don’t. If you go in thinking you’ve mastered it, it’ll end up biting you in the butt.

“And in golf, you can’t rely on your pitcher to strike the batter out. There’s nobody to fall back on. It’s all on you.”