PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry golfer Jordan Vogler will sign with Lenoir-Rhyne University today.
Just hours ahead of the Northwest Conference Championship at Cross Creek Country Club, the Voglers are planning to hold the signing at East Surry this morning.
With the conclusion of today’s 18-hole match, Vogler will earn his fourth all-conference honor. In his previous three seasons, he has helped the Cardinals earn a third-place finish in the state 1A tournament.
Last year, Vogler averaged 78 on the two days of the state event, with the team just three strokes from tying Lake Norman Charter for second place behind Bishop McGuinness.
Right now, Vogler is the only public school golfer in the top five in conference scoring. He is fourth, while the Villains have the other four spots and look primed to win another state title. Last season Vogler finished fifth in the Northwest in scoring average.
“Jordan is a great golfer,” said East coach Caleb Gilley. “He spends a lot of time on it. … He doesn’t play another sport. He can spend all day, every day at the golf course, and he often does.”
Jordan is his own worst critic, but it keeps him striving to improve, said the coach. At the same time, he does a good job of keeping a level head.
The mental aspect is probably the area where the most improvement is needed, said Vogler. The mechanics and the short game are all good, but sometimes a bad swing or hole will linger in the senior’s thoughts.
Jordan’s game was already solid, but what has improved the most this season is his leadership skill, said Gilley.
“We’re a young team, and the younger guys look up to him,” the coach said. “He encourages them and has worked with them.”
When he was growing up, Vogler said it was his older cousin Ben Vogler that he turned to for advice. Ben was a senior when Jordan joined the team as a freshman.
Now that he is the senior, Vogler said he tries to keep things light with his teammates during rounds.
If they try too hard, the players tense up and play worse, he said. Instead, he advises them to stay loose and have fun.
“I try to help them the best way I can,” he said. After 12 years of playing the game, he said he knows what the swing should look like, so he can step in with advice.
As for Vogler’s golf game, Gilley said, “He’s a very good putter. That’s usually his strong point.”
Jordan has always been slender, but when he was playing in youth tournaments in grade school, he was just so tiny, said his dad Mark. He really had to scramble to make par while playing with kids who routinely hit drives 75 to 100 yards further.
Jordan has spent a lot of time working on his short game, and that has paid off for him, said Gilley.
It started when Jordan was just five years old, said Mark. His aunt and uncle, Wanda and Matthew Vogler, got him a plastic set of clubs for Christmas. When the weather warmed up, Jordan was spending a lot of time outdoors batting those plastic balls around.
One week, Mark saw Jordan outside playing every day as he drove in from work. He asked his son if he was having a good time with golf, and when Jordan said yes, Mark drove to Winston-Salem and bought a real set of clubs.
When he was six years old, Jordan played T-ball. Mark said he told his son that baseball and golf were both spring sports at the middle school and high school level, so he’d have to make a choice between the two.
Jordan said it was no choice; golf was love at first swing.
That summer, Mark entered the 6-year-old into a local par-3 golf tournament. Jordan won his age group by 12 strokes.
In his grade-school years, Jordan won more than 10 tournaments, his dad recalled. He was playing against Bishop’s Tanner Owen at age seven and has competed with the future Wake Forest Demon Deacon the past four seasons in high school.
In the summer before the eighth grade in 2009, Jordan won a tournament and qualified for a big out-of-state event. WXII featured him as its Flow Athlete of the Week.
Those summer and fall tournaments gave him exposure to college scouts, which he wouldn’t have gotten if he had played two or three sports in school, Mark reasoned.
Right now, Jordan is ranked 54th in the state in the junior standings with a stroke average in tournament play of 76.06.
Jordan has worked with Tom Gibson and Derek Brown at Pilot Knob Park, but mostly he has improved from just putting in the long hours himself, said Mark.
His tournament results drew the interest of five colleges, but he soon narrowed down his choices to Catawba and Lenoir-Rhyne.
Jordan really liked the Lenoir-Rhyne campus and hit it off immediately with golf coach Travis Bland.
Travis was an outstanding golfer at UNC-Wilmington and knows his sport, said Jordan. He is young and fun to talk to, but still very knowledgeable, he said.
What sealed the deal for the coach was having Jordan join the current players for a practice round, said Mark. They played nine holes, and Jordan outscored them all with a one-under-par.
Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba both made offers, and the Catawba deal was a little sweeter, said Mark. Bland didn’t want to lose Vogler, and the school came back with a second offer that the Voglers accepted.
Last summer, Jordan stood 5-foot-9 and weighed just 135 pounds. Tired of watching others land drives out beyond his reach, Jordan decided to start a weightlifting regimen.
While still slim, the senior has put on 10 pounds of muscle and sees the results off the tee.
Driving accuracy has always been a strength, he noted, but now he can get distance to go with the accuracy, making driving his biggest strength these days.
And he still has plenty of room to fill out more and get even stronger, said Mark. His best golf is yet to come.