Prep Golf: South’s Parker Chavis signs with Pfeiffer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

By Mike London

LANDIS — South Rowan senior Parker Chavis signed recently with Pfeiffer.

He’s known since last summer that he had the right stuff to be a college golfer.

Things have been looking up for Chavis since an October weekend in 2015. Chavis wasn’t a household name then, but he was entered in a junior tournament at The Club at Irish Creek, part of a stellar field that included East Rowan standouts Nick Lyerly and Logan Shuping, plus dozens of top golfers from across the state.

Lyerly, now a senior and the top-ranked high school golfer in North Carolina,  won that event with a  pair of 69s. No surprise there. Shuping, now on scholarship at East Carolina, placed fourth. Chavis surprised himself by shooting 74-74   — 148 and tying for fifth, one stroke behind Shuping.

“I found out that on a big stage, against some really tough golfers, I could do OK,” Chavis said. “There were some great golfers in that tournament, but I was able to compete.”

Chavis started relatively late. He’d played a little golf, but things didn’t get serious for him until he was in the eighth grade at Corriher-Lipe Middle School. Chavis’  South teammate Andrew Hubbard was on that team. Hubbard’s father, Jimmy, coached and started working with Chavis on his swing.

“That year is when the love of golf started for me,” Chavis said. “I found out I loved to compete on the golf course.”

When Chavis was a freshman, South had a strong team that won the South Piedmont Conference championship for coach Steve Beaver and qualified for the 3A state tournament. South had a major star in Davis Richards, now part of the N.C. State team, as well as All-SPC players Evan Neas and Hunter Chapman. 

Chavis wasn’t in the five-man lineup for the Raiders that year, but he still made some strides.

“I learned a lot from watching Davis Richards, a lot about golf and a lot about competing,” Chavis said. “He drove me to keep improving.”

As a sophomore, in the spring of 2015, Chavis shot 78 in the South Piedmont Conference Tournament at Corbin Hills for seventh place and made the all-conference team.

His breakout performance at Irish Creek with the back-to-back 74s came six months after that.

As a junior, in the spring of 2016, Chavis established himself as one of the county’s top golfers. He thrived on the biggest stages.  In the Rowan County Championships at Warrior, he shot 70 for second place behind Shuping. In the South Piedmont Conference Tournament at Warrior to close the league season, he shot 73, the second-best round of the day behind Lyerly. He made his first all-county team and his second All-SPC team.

Between his junior and senior years, there was more growth. In July, Chavis was back at Irish Creek for the three-round Izod American Junior Golf Association Championship.

His first round on what is basically his home course was disappointing, an 83. A lone  birdie was swallowed up by a barrage of bogeys. There was a double bogey on the par-5 No. 6 hole and a triple bogey on the par-4 17th.

Playing in a field so strong that there was an opening-round 63 posted on the par 71 layout, plus four more rounds in the 60s, Chavis must have felt like flinging his clubs into the nearest pond.

Instead he showed what he was made of. In the second round, he came back and played the best golf of his life. He finished 2-under.

“I shot a bogey-free 69, and a 69 from the back tees at Irish Creek is a really good round,” Chavis said. “That day is when I really felt like I could play college golf.”

His 69 was one of the best rounds that day. On the 17th, where he’d carded a “7” in the first round, Chavis  made one of his two birdies. That told everyone a lot about who he was.

On the third day, Chavis shot a normal round for him — 76.

Chavis says his strength as a golfer is his short game.

“On those days when I’m not striking the ball well, I can still scrap my way around the green and make a lot of pars,” Chavis said.

He  realizes he’s not a finished product, but he’s ranked 136th among the high school golfers in a very competitive state . His average round is a 78.

“My weakness has been that when I’ve made a bogey, I felt like I had to get it right back with a birdie on the next hole,” Chavis said. “I’m learning to stick to the gameplan.”

Chavis had college options. There was an offer from William Peace, a small school in Raleigh, and one from junior college power Sandhills Community College. He also had contact with bigger schools that weren’t offering scholarships but wanted him as a walk-on.

He chose nearby Pfeiffer, where he’ll have a chance to play with Carson’s Patrick Street, a friend, as well as a competitor.

“Pfeiffer knew all about me and really seemed to want me more than any other school,” Chavis said. “It’s a good program and they play great courses.”

Academically, Chavis hopes to take advantage of Pfeiffer’s four-year masters of business administration program.

But first he has his final high school season in front of him. He has lofty goals for his senior year, even though playing in the SPC means watching Lyerly make birdies, week-in and week-out.

“Nick isn’t just the best in this state, he’d be the best about anywhere,” Chavis said. “It’s a big challenge, but I always look forward to competing.”