Ever go through that lerpy growth-spurt phase?
There you are, all comfy-cozy in your 4-foot-11 frame and — Whammo! You’re 5-foot-8.
You wake up one morning tripping over your own feet, and bumping your wrists on furniture and door frames you never realized were there.
Dribbling a basketball becomes a nightmare, and forget about running without elbow pads and a helmet.
Gangly. Graceless. Lerpy.
And if you’re a golfer? Forget about it.
Not only do you need to be re-fit for clubs — twice — you are also further from the ball than you’ve ever been.
Suddenly you find yourself bending over like Jack Nicklaus on every 6-inch putt, and squatting to fish the ball out of the hole out of fear of losing your balance.
Such was the challenge facing Hillcrest High School sophomore Andy Hess, who overcame a sudden 5-inch growth spurt to become the Post Register All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year.
And there was nothing gangly, graceless or lerpy about it.
“My swing changed a lot and I had to go out and practice to get it right,” Hess said. “It took a lot of hard work to get that figured out.”
Hess jumped from 5-foot-5 to 5-10 over the offseason, though he didn’t have to ditch his trusty clubs. The 5-5 Hess had been choking down on the grip for years. At 5-10, his fingers did the walking.
“That was one of the good things, because I kind of grew into my clubs a little bit,” he said. “Now I only grip down when I have to.”
Pinecrest golf pro Tim Reinke has seen this kind of spurt before. He’s seen it break players and he’s seen it make players.
“It can be hard when you’re growing because you can lose your balance and you are reinventing all the time,” Reinke said “The thing about him is, when something like that starts happening, he’s out on the range hitting ball after ball working through it.”
Sand Creek golf pro John Graham has seen more than his share of Hess working through it over the years. Hess grew up on the Sand Creek junior course where he has four holes in one on his junior resume.
That short course excellence has left Hess as one of the area’s top short game players, age and height notwithstanding.
“He grew up on that course, and when he’s on, he’s as good as anybody around from 150 (yards) and in,” Graham said. “With his new height, length could be a big benefit for him. If he can get it out there 275 to 300, that will make all the difference in the world.”
Hess finished tied for fifth at the 5A state championship tournament held at Highland Golf Course in Pocatello and was the only eastern Idaho player to crack the top 10.
That performance, plus eight medalist honors over 11 tournaments this spring, has caught the attention of Division I Colorado State.
“They just wanted to let me know they were keeping an eye on me and wanted to let me know about the golf program at Colorado State,” Hess said. “It’s good to have someone looking at you, for sure.”
Before any of that happens, however, Hess has two more years, and perhaps several more inches, with the Knights.
“Over the next two years he should just keep getting better and better and earn himself a scholarship,” Graham said.