One afternoon this spring, the SouthWest Edgecombe golf team loaded its clubs onto the team bus and prepared for a ride to a regular-season match.
Fifteen minutes passed, and the team, along with coach Jonathan Cobb, were still waiting to drive away from campus because one of the Cougars was absent.
When junior Cole Jefferys finally arrived on the bus, Cobb asked his player why it had taken so long for him to join his teammates.
“I was enjoying my history teacher’s lesson,” Jefferys told Cobb. “So I decided to sit there and listen for 15 minutes.”
That occurrence was just one of many known around the SouthWest Edgecombe boys’ golf program as being on “Cole Time.”
“I’m not the fastest person ever,” Jefferys said. “I tend to hold people up and go at my own pace. I’m easy-going, and I don’t get in a hurry for anything. I’m never early for anything. It’s something I can’t help, I guess.”
It definitely was Cole’s time this spring.
Jefferys completed his season as the NCHSAA 2-A state individual champion, pacing SouthWest Edgecombe to a fourth-place finish in the state and earning the Telegram’s 2014 All-Area Player of the Year award.
Jefferys didn’t change much during the two days at Longleaf Golf & Country Club that turned him from a good player into a state champion.
As is his custom, Jefferys said a prayer prior to his rounds, asking God to allow him to shoot whatever score He felt was necessary.
Despite the horrors Cougars golfers have faced at the state championship the past few seasons, Jefferys played even par the first day, then shot 2-under during his first nine holes of the final round.
All of the sudden, the tournament became winnable, and after 36 holes, he was three shots clear of the runner-up.
“Going down there and finishing third would have been great,” Jefferys said. “It was phenomenal. I knew if I kept practicing, it would pay off. It’s what everyone wants, but not everyone works to do it.”
Jefferys’ emergence has evolved each season.
As a freshman and sophomore, Cobb said he would notice that Jefferys often came up a club short when trying to reaching the green.
Oddly enough, that is where Jefferys’ game is at its best.
Jefferys said he spends most of his time practicing with his 60-degree wedge around greens, putting himself in all imaginable scenarios to make an up-and-down for par.
Last summer, with his game improving, Jefferys spent more time with putting drills.
He was not SouthWest Edgecombe’s longest hitter off the tee, but he was its most consistent from fairway to green.
Only once did he shoot in the 80s, and he finished with a 74 average.
Playing consistent golf allowed Jefferys to play freely, and he expects that to continue next season when he is the leader of the Cougars’ squad.
“There was a quote I heard that said, ‘Golf is like life. No matter what you shoot the first day, you have to tee it up and prove yourself the next day,’” Jefferys said. “Just because I won the state championship, it’s not over. I still have to go out and compete and play good. And if I shoot 79, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad player. I have to go out and shoot 69 the next day.”
Cobb said Jefferys’ mentality is unshakeable, adding the maturing golfer doesn’t change his routine and keeps things in perspective.
“Cole Time” works between the ears, too.
“He does what he does and doesn’t think much what everyone else thinks,” Cobb said. “Whether it is rainy or cloudy, he just does what Cole does. He is mastering his own feelings and thoughts as he gets older.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or jhnunery@ rmtelegram.com