Consistency name of the game for Leone as dependable golfer for Golden Tornado
PENN TWP — Consistency is the name of the game for Nic Leone.
The Butler sophomore golfer has been the Golden Tornado's medalist in each of his team's last eight matches, including six consecutive 9-hole rounds below 40.
“His strength is in his swing,” Butler coach Travis Shingleton marveled. “It's so smooth ... almost flawless.”
Leone carded a 38 at Shannopin, 37 at Butler Country Club, 38 at Diamond Run, 37 at BCC, 36 at Pheasant Ridge and 39 at Saxon before ending that streak with a 41 a week ago at BCC.
He qualified for the upcoming WPIAL Championships by shooting a 79 Monday at North Park.
Leone is averaging 38.9 for the season. Last year, he was Butler's second leading golfer. He trailed only Tommy Dimun, who is playing for Butler County Community College this season.
Leone placed second on the Kings Junior Golf Tour this past summer. He won an event on that tour in 2012 (Connoquenessing Country Club) and 2013 (Nemacolin).
“I probably play six days a week,” Leone, 16, a Butler Country Club member, said. “I played in 15 tournaments or so last summer.
“I want to play college golf, preferably at a Division I school down south, and see where it takes me from there.”
Leone learned the game through his father, Dan Leone, who formerly played in leagues. Nic has been playing golf since age 10.
“I grabbed one of Dad's clubs one day and started chipping around in the yard,” he recalled. “That's where it got started for me.”
Shingleton estimates Leone can drive a ball 290 to 305 yards off the tee. His 3-wood can carry 245 yards, his 3-iron 215.
“He hits the fairways and greens consistently,” the coach said. “You just don't see many bad shots out of Nic.
“He's mentally tough. He lines up his putts, reads the greens well and sinks them. Nic is a well-mannered kid, very respectful and coachable.”
Leone considers putting to be his strength. He says he has to work on his chipping from 50 yards and in.
“You can always get better in every phase of the game,” he said.
He added that his mental toughness comes from experience.
“I don't let a bad shot bother me anymore,” Leone said. “It used to be that I'd hit a bad shot and let it affect the rest of my round.
“I've learned to let it go, put it out of my mind and move on. Bad shots are going to happen in this game.”
Leone played on Butler's lacrosse team as a freshman, but may not return to that sport in the spring.
“My mind's not totally made up there yet, but I'm leaning toward concentrating on my golf game in the spring,” he admitted. “I have a lot of friends on the (lacrosse) team and I'd miss it, but I'm not going to go anywhere in that sport.
“Golf has a chance to take me someplace if I stay with it and focus on getting better.”
In Shingleton's mind, he's already pretty good.
“There's been a number of outstanding golfers to come through Butler over the years,” Shingleton said. “Nic is going to be right up there with them by the time he's finished.”