By: IAN GEERTSEN
This past summer, junior George McNeely was one of just 156 players to qualify for the United States Junior Amateur, coming out of a pool of more than 5,000 American and international contestants. The golfer also won three events run by the Northern California Junior Golf Association and had a top-five finish in an American Junior Golf Association event.
His freshman year, McNeely finished second in Mission Trail Athletic League standings and was the only Carmel player to advance past the Central Coast Section. He then sailed smoothly through section finals and NorCals all the way to a 14th overall finish at state, although he could not improve on these results last year due to a nagging back injury.
The junior boasts an impressive 0 handicap and often practices at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club, where he has a low score of 64. His lowest score in general is a 61, shot at Rancho Canada.
McNeely says he loves the game because of its creative aspects and intense pressure.
“Golf is all about imagination and creating shots,” McNeely says. “In other sports, you can make up for a mistake, but in golf one shot can cost you everything.”
While McNeely has found undeniable success on the greens and fairways, he has made some tough sacrifices in class as a result. He regularly misses Fridays to play in tournaments, and he has already missed three weeks this year.
“I’ve managed to keep my grades up as well as golf,” McNeely explains, “but it definitely wasn’t easy.”
As a sophomore, the student-athlete compiled a 4.4 GPA and all A’s, showing how responsible he was while in school.
“He would always communicate with me way ahead of time,” says Jillayne Ange, one of McNeely’s sophomore year teachers. “He is a very serious all-around student.”
As of Sept. 1, juniors have been eligible to talk with college coaches, and already McNeely has had conversations with coaches from the University of Oregon, University of Washington, UCLA, USC and Arizona State.
McNeely has plans for himself after college, too.
“Definitely Pro,” McNeely says. “That’s my goal.”
Former CHS student and teammate Ethan Sipple thinks that George McNeely’s goal may not to be too far out of reach.
“He’s gotten better year after year,” Sippel says. “He’s hard-working, an outstanding student and a gentleman. That’s what will get him far in life.”