Calhoun athlete's drive goes beyond golf
March 14, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2010 at 9:14 p.m.
Calhoun High School varsity golfer Hunter Nunley is harvesting accolades for both his strong game and academics.
But he has been harvesting crops for much longer than he has played golf, a sport he picked up around his freshman year.
The senior golfer has worked practically all his life at his family's farm in Long Mott.
While most high school golfers meditate on how they can improve their game, the farming industry and its recent struggles pervade the 18-year-old's mind.
"It's a constant struggle of split-second decisions you have to make to produce a profit," Nunley said about the farming business. "It doesn't take much to go under, especially when the economy is so bad."
Nunley Farms, a medium-sized farm, harvests cotton and maize year-round. During the recession, he and his family have kept a keen eye on their finances.
In the past couple of years, he said, several smaller farmers have watched their businesses fold.
"We have had to be more careful about the decisions we make," he said. "And the uncontrollable factors of farming - it's hard to have that and produce a good crop."
Just as climate can change the dynamics in a game of golf, it plays an important role in farming.
In 2009, the severe drought ailed the Nunley's farming. In 2010, they have had to deal with flooding.
Farming demands a lot of Nunley's time. During certain seasons, golf, often considered one of the more mentally taxing sports, can be an afterthought for Nunley.
Nonetheless, his strong work ethic drives him to keep practicing, and it doesn't hurt that golf practice is fairly flexible, he said.
Coach Nick LaBarbera coached Nunley's sister before meeting him when he made varsity his freshman year.
Working on the family farm, LaBarbera said, prepared him for the hard work it takes to perform well on the golf course.
"I think Hunter's parents have instilled a good work ethic in him," he said. "He knows it takes hard work to make things successful. I think that's the correlation is that he's not afraid of hard work."
Nunley's college plans aren't definite yet, but he plans on attending Texas A&M University to study engineering.
He plans to continue golf as a hobby, and does not expect to play in college.
He said he enjoys golf because of the challenge.
"It's something different every time," he said. "You never hit the same shot twice, and it's always something new. There's never any boundaries to what you can do."