By Anthony Marengo
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – On Wednesday, April 20, the Camden County College golf team will compete in its second tournament of the season. One of the players leading the team’s efforts is 20-year-old Joseph Stuart of Berlin Borough. What makes Stuart’s above-average play so surprising is the fact he is doing so without any formal training or knowledge of golf.
While most collegiate golfers have taken lessons or practiced at a professional golf course to hone their skills, Stuart had never experienced either of the aforementioned actions before trying out for Camden County College’s golf team on March 1. In addition, Stuart uses his grandfather’s old, tarnished golf clubs and disheveled bag while many of his teammates use new and sometimes even custom designed clubs.
“A friend of mine, Scott Park, first got me interested in golf,” Stuart says. “(Park) used to bring his clubs in his trunk wherever he went, and one day he let me hit some balls at a playground near my house … he said I was ‘a natural.’” That introduction to golf, occurring only 3 months ago, spurred the inexperienced Stuart to work tirelessly in preparation for the CCC golf team tryouts.
However, due to financial straits, going to a golf course or driving range was not an option. Instead, Stuart drove shots into a padding made from blankets hung on the wall in his room. He practiced every night after school, taking shots for hours while using a lone desk lamp for light.
During the team audition, Stuart performed aptly. Carl “Carlos” Metzradt, the team’s head coach, was more than just impressed. Upon hearing that Stuart had picked up the sport only a few weeks ago, the coach was flabbergasted. “Just watching his game, his swing … you would think he’d been playing since he was a child,” says Metzradt. “He makes some silly mistakes here and there, but his play is much more advanced than most players are at that point in their careers.”
CCC’s first match was on April 5 at the Deerwood Country Club in Westampton, New Jersey. In a 12-team competition, Camden County finished with a total score of 371, earning a tie for 8th place with Bergen. Stuart shot a respectable 86.
In order to make it to the championship, CCC’s team will have to perform much better than they did in the season’s inaugural match. If the Cougars do reach their ultimate goal, it may be thanks in part to the surprising play of an unheralded man who practices alone in his dimly lit bedroom.