Most college students are enjoying some time off over the summer.
Bryce Beeler, on the other hand, is staying quite busy on the golf course.
A Maryville High School alum and golfer at Tennessee Tech, Beeler has his next few months booked with golf tournaments ahead of the upcoming season. He’s currently competing in the Blount County Amateur, which spans over four days and four different local courses. The tournament moves to Wild Laurel on Saturday.
On Friday at Lambert Acres Golf Course, Beeler shot an even-par 72 — two strokes better than his opening-round score Thursday at Green Meadow Country Club. He wasn’t happy with his performance on the first day, but he’s happy to be trending in a positive direction.
Beeler trails Michael Bradshaw Jr. in the championship division. Bradshaw, the reigning champion, leads by 12 strokes halfway through the tournament. While Bradshaw is running away with the top prize, Beeler has some competition for second place. He leads third-place Kevin Morgan by three strokes and fourth-place Kevin Gryder by four.
Two more players are within five and six strokes of Beeler.
“I didn’t play good yesterday — I kind of got the yips,” Beeler said. “But I’m headed in the right direction.”
That could also be said for Beeler’s golf career. Beeler was selected to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer Team as a freshman in April. Earlier that month, he set a Tennessee Tech three-round record while winning his first collegiate individual title at the Big Blue Intercollegiate, shooting 5-under 208 to place first among 87 golfers.
Beeler broke the previous record of 210 that was set by Alcoa graduate Matthew Giles in 2015, and he became the first Tech rookie to score back-to-back sub-70 rounds since Charles Seals did so in 2017.
That tournament also happened to overlap with Beeler’s 19th birthday.
“I practiced really hard over the summer to get ready for it, so I was expecting to play well coming in,” Beeler said of his freshman year. “I like everyone on the team, the chemistry is good and we all get along really well.”
Beeler began golfing around age 8 when his grandfather started taking him to Green Meadow. His love for the sport continued to grow and, around age 13, Beeler said he began taking it seriously.
“My granddad played all the time so he kind of got me into it,” Beeler said. “It took off from there.”
As an eighth grader, Beeler was a member of the Maryville team that went 36-0 on its way to winning a state title. In high school, the Rebels could never quite get past the region powerhouses such as Halls and Farragut, but Beeler played well enough to attract the attention of colleges.
“I was like, ‘OK, if I practice every day, I can play at the next level,’” Beeler said. “My senior year is really what propelled me to play college golf.”
Beeler is applying that same approach in preparing for his sophomore season at Tennessee Tech. Following the Blount County Amateur, he is slated to compete in the Tennessee Four-Ball, Tennessee Match Play, Chattanooga Choo Choo Invitational and potentially the Rocky Top Amateur this summer.
Beeler said Tennessee Tech’s goal this year is to win its first conference championship since 1990. The team tied for fifth last season.
“That’s probably the expectation from here on,” Beeler said. “We’re kind of young, so (last season) was a good learning experience.”
Elsewhere in the tournament, William Blount sophomore Nick Etherton shot a 2-under 70 on Friday to take a two-shot lead in the Open Division over Brad White, who shot 68.
Kent Heaton moved up from third place to first place in the Senior Division after shooting 73 on Friday. He leads by four shots over three players tied for second place.
Jim Gillespie padded his lead in the Super Senior Division by shooting 78. He leads Tom Klein by 10 shots.