Tyler Shamblin, who is headed to play for national JUCO power Darton State College, finished third in state this past season in the Class A tourney.
DONALSONVILLE — Tyler Shamblin would watch his golf ball disappear into the night.
Over and over again, his drives would take off under the glare of his pick-up truck’s headlights before being enveloped by darkness.
He never saw where they landed.
But he also never stopped swinging.
“I never wanted to stop until it was perfect,” said Shamblin, a 2013 graduate of Seminole County High School and The Herald’s Player of the Year in golf for the second straight season. “I would go to the driving range when it was dark, turn on my truck’s headlights, and me and one of my buddies would shag balls and then hit them into the night. I would see the ball at first, but then after about the first 100 yards I would lose it in the darkness.”
He always found a way to push himself harder, and that’s why Shamblin, who will play at national JUCO powerhouse Darton State College next season, turned into the top player in Southwest Georgia.
“On a regular basis, I would drive by the country club, and his truck would be the only car out there,” Seminole coach Brinson Register said. “It’s his work ethic. It’s his commitment to the sport. It’s his commitment to always work to get better. He practices every day. He gets out there in the afternoon and practices till dark.”
Shamblin turned in one of the best individual seasons at Seminole County in decades, ending his senior year with a third-place finish in the Class A state tournament and being named to the South Team for the GHSA Coaches Association All-Star Tournament.
A scratch golfer, Shamblin will stay in Southwest Georgia this fall as a member of the Darton golf team, but he has dreams of being Seminole’s first Division I golfer in more than a decade — and Register, who has coached the Indians since 2000, thinks Shamblin has the potential to do so.
“He has that classic, Ben Hogan swing,” Register said. “He has the mechanics down and really has a fundamentally sound swing. There is very little I have had to adjust over the years.”
Shamblin has meant the world to the Indians’ golf program.
“He has certainly been a cornerstone of the program,” Register said. “He was a good role model and a leader on the team. We have had some scratch golfers come through this program, and he is certainly one of the best.”
He was one of the best in the state this season, too.
In the All-Star tournament earlier this month, Shamblin won his singles match after turning heads in the team-wide practice round.
“I fit in (among the best players in the state),” Shamblin said. “I actually had a golfer who was going to play at Lamar University (Tex.) that I played with in my practice round tell me that I have the game to play Division I.
“He is an excellent golfer who had won some big junior tournaments, and he said I just didn’t have the exposure. He told me he was surprised how well my game was compared to the other guys.”
Exposure is exactly what Shamblin hopes to get at a Darton program that has produced several Division I athletes in recent years and is annually among the top-ranked junior college teams in the nation.
Shamblin was heavily recruited by former coach Bill Jones III, who recently resigned after two years as head coach of the Cavs, but Shamblin said he will be comfortable playing for Dale Dover, the architect of the Darton program who is back as an interim coach after serving as Director of Golf the past two seasons.
Dover also understands Shamblin’s never-quit work ethic and how that can turn him into an elite player at the college level.
“Like coach Dover has told me, guys around here aren’t handed million dollar houses and hundred dollar golf lessons,” Shamblin said. “We actually have to go out and work for it. That’s how it was for me at Seminole. There wasn’t a PGA professional coaching us or a lot of A-plus golfers. If you wanted it, you had to go out and do it yourself.”
It was a work ethic that defined Shamblin on the golf course and made dreams come true off of it.
He stepped off the links momentarily his senior season and stepped on the hard court, where he tried out for the varsity basketball team — a dream that Seminole hoops coach Kevin Godwin told Shamblin would be tough to achieve.
“(Godwin) said he pretty much never takes senior first-year players. But he said if my name came up on the roster board in the gym, that I would have accomplished something,” Shamblin said. “He said for me to make the team would be accomplishing something. I ended up being one of 15 players that dressed every game and traveled to every game.”
Not only did Shamblin make the team and go on the ride of a lifetime as the Indians marched to an improbable Elite 8 appearance, but he also got to start a game against Baker County.
Though he only scored around 30 points the entire season, he admitted it was “the best experience of my high school career” to play the game that had become his second love behind golf.
But nothing’s more important to Shamblin than golf.
“It basically is all I have done for the past six years of my life,” he said. “I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t a golfer. I would get out of school at 3:30 and play until dark of play until I was so hungry I had to go home. If it wasn’t for that, who knows what I would be doing.”
2013 ALBANY HERALD ALL-AREA GOLF TEAM:
Player of the Year Runner-up
Tyler Hanson, Fr., Sherwood
Why he’s here: Was Sherwood’s top player for the second year in a row and shot a team-low 76 in the GISA Class AA state tournament. He was the GISA Region 3-A medalist after defeating Ajay Patel from Valwood in a fourth playoff hole.
Bill Sharpe, Fr., Deerfield
Why he’s here:Emerged as the top player on Deerfield’s team by the end of the year and made the GISA Class AAA All-State team after shooting a 75 at state. With a scoring average of 79, he also made the All-Region team.
John Leach, Sr., Deerfield
Why he’s here: Started the season as the team’s No. 1 golfer and finished his season year with an 80 in the GISA Class AAA state tournament with a scoring average of 79.
Wilson Joiner, So., Deerfield-Windsor
Why he’s here: A solid No. 3 for the Knights, Joiner shot a 79 in the GISA Class AAA state tournament and had a season scoring average of 80.
Brandon Brookin, Jr., SGA
Why he’s here: He shot a 76 in the GISA Class AA state tournament to lead Southwest Georgia Academy to a seventh-place team finish. He carded an 88 in the GISA Region 3-AA meet.
Vance Bailey, So., Miller County
Why he’s here: He shot an 82 in the Class A state tournament to finish tied for sixth individually. He fired a 78 in the Region 1-A meet to finish as medalist, one shot in front of Player of the Year Tyler Shamblin of Seminole County.