By Rob Patrick
Austin Harmon, who led the Bryant Hornets golf team to a runner-up finish in the 7A-West[more] Conference and a third-place finish at the Class 7A State tourney, signed a letter of intent to continue his links career and education at Central Baptist College in Conway.
Harmon was an all-conference performer for the Hornets, pacing the team with an 18-hole round of 76 at Centennial Country Club in Bryant. Plagued by a stomach ailment, he still carded a 79 on the second day to lead the team at State with a 36-hole score of 155, matching teammate Drew Castleberry.
The son of Richard and Linda Harmon, he chose CBC over offers from Arkansas State and Delta State.
“I picked CBC because it was smaller and closer to home and I liked the coach a lot,” he explained.
“They’re getting a real good quality team player, very consistent, very dedicated to the sport,” said Hornets coach Keith Dale. “Just this whole year, he’s been making massive improvements. I think he’s going to do real well for CBC. He’ll be a real good team player and, hopefully, score them a lot of points.”
Harmon said he’s been playing competitively since he was 6 years old.
“After that, I just never stopped playing,” he said. “I played every summer after that. It’s what I enjoy doing.
“My best round competitively was last summer at Rolling Hills in Cabot. I shot a 66 on the final day. But I’ve shot at Hurricane, where I play every day, a 62."
For a round like that, he noted, “You can’t make a mistake, everything’s going right, you can’t miss a putt, can’t miss a fairway. Everything’s going perfect.”
CBC coach Lyle Middleton, asked what he liked in his new golfer, said, “When you can get a very good kid with good character and works hard, is dedicated to the game of golf and his education — that’s what got me interested in him. He has a lot of golfing ability. There are things that he brings to the game that you can’t teach. He has a lot of size, distance with his club selection. But it’s nice to find a kid that’s a hard worker where you don’t have to stay on top of them. They want to be better every day.”
Middleton noted that there will be a transition time for the Bryant senior.
“He’ll be a freshman so he’s going to have to learn the collegiate side of it, the travel and everything that you don’t have in high school,” the coach said. “But I think he’s ready to go forward with that.”
Regarding his improvement to get to his level, Harmon said, “My swing coach who’s been tutoring me for two years, he really took me to the next level, got me to where I am today. I thank him a lot; Tommy Rutherford at Stone Links. After that I just progressed and got better and better.”
Academically, he wants to pursue a business degree.
“But I want to see how far I can go with golf,” he asserted.
The CBC program is on the ascent, Middleton mentioned. “We’re getting better every year. We’ve been ranked in the top 30 in NAIA. Last year, we had the No. 1 ranked NAIA player in the country. We finished the National Christian College year two weeks ago in Panama City, Fla., and finished eighth out of 18 schools including a lot of D-II schools.”