In this age of increased sports specialization, Logan Thompson might be considered a throwback.
But few can argue with his decision to play three sports at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln. The senior is an all-conference right fielder and three-year starter in baseball, the reigning Northern Maine free-throw shooting champion in basketball, and now Maine’s first four-time individual state champion in high school golf.
The common denominator among the three sports? Consistency, both physical and cerebral.
Physical consistency comes in accurately repeating the routines required for success, whether it’s keeping a tee shot within the fairway, launching long-range jump shots or hitting an 80 mph fastball.
“I just always think about tempo and having good rhythm,” said Thompson. “It’s just muscle memory, having a swing or a shooting stroke you can repeat over and over again so you don’t get a lot of variation.
“It’s the same with my baseball swing. I try to have a smooth swing and hit for solid contact rather than for power.”
Consistency also comes from maintaining the disciplined mindset needed to focus on the task of the moment without being influenced negatively by earlier travails or future tests.
“Logan doesn’t get wound up about much,” said Mattanawcook Academy golf and baseball coach Ryan Libby. “He’s got an extremely short-term memory, if you want to call it that. If he strikes out in one at-bat, he doesn’t worry about it when he comes up again. If he hits a bad golf shot — which doesn’t happen very often — he forgets about it and concentrates on getting to the next shot and the next hole.”
Such qualities were required for Thompson to complete his historic, four-year sweep of the Class C individual golf championship at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro last Saturday.
Thompson and Mitchell Tarrio of Kents Hill were both 1 under par at the turn and remained even through 15 holes of the 18 holes.
That’s when Thompson delivered the shot of the match, chipping in for an eagle that gave him the lead for good.
“It was a short par 4 and I hit my tee shot a little over the back right of the green,” said Thompson. “It was about a 30-foot chip shot. I was in the rough but had a lot of green to work with, so I hit a bump-and-run with my sand wedge.
“The more it rolled it was tracking right toward the hole. I started to walk away from it because I thought it might drop in, and luckily it did. It was a pretty exciting moment.”
That shot was one of three eagles Thompson carded over the final nine holes as he shot a 5-under-par 31 to finish at 6-under 66, good for a five-stroke victory over Tarrio and the event’s best round, regardless of class.
“I’m a competitor, I love to win tournaments, but he (Libby) doesn’t like me to look back to the past because that just adds pressure I don’t need.
“I just try to stay in the present and work on one shot at a time, and that’s worked pretty well for me.”
Steady play, steady progress
Thompson began playing golf as soon as he could lift the clubs. It wasn’t long before he was competing in youth tournaments and learning the game under PGA teaching pro Mike Clendenning at Barnes Brook Golf Course in Enfield.
Thompson was one of several future Mattanawcook golfers who went through Clendenning’s junior program, a foundation Libby credits for not only boosting his top player’s individual success but Mattanawcook’s status as the three-time Class C state champion.
“A lot of the guys get to play all summer and play in tournaments and get that competitiveness going about golf while Mike works with them,” said Libby. “I owe a lot of our success to Mike Clendenning. He’s done a wonderful job at Barnes Brook and really helped a lot of our kids.”
Thompson has focused most recently on his short game — an effort that paid off with his match-changing chip shot at states last weekend.
“We work a lot on inside of 100 yards and making sure my short game is as good as it can be,” said Thompson.
Thompson’s confidence got a big boost when he won the 2016 Maine Junior Championship. The event included all of the state’s top young golfers.
“Before that I had won two Class C state championships, but I knew at the same time that I wasn’t competing against some of the better players in my age group,” he said. “For me to win that tournament and play everybody regardless of class and come out on top, it definitely meant a lot to me.”
That victory was earned in great measure through composure of mind and technique. At 5-foot-9, 130 pounds, Thompson is rarely the biggest or most powerful player on the course.
“He has a flawless swing,” said Libby. “There are so many moving parts to golf and the golf swing, but his swing is so smooth and rhythmical, it’s right where it needs to be for him to get the most distance.”
Thompson still isn’t the longest hitter, but increasing his distance has generated more birdie and eagle opportunities.
“(At first) he just hit it down the middle and put it on the green, and if he could sneak in a birdie every now and then, he did.
“Now he’s giving himself more chances to have comfortable birdie putts, he’s giving himself a lot more chances to go low.”
Soon it will be on to basketball and then back to baseball for Thompson, who savors the team aspects of those sports.
“What helps me the most is that the other sports keep me in a competitive mindset and always in pretty decent physical condition,” said Thompson, who believes he has benefitted from running to stay in shape.
Inevitably, Thompson will return to golf as he makes the turn toward playing collegiately next year — whereabouts undetermined. He’ll also likely begin specializing on the links.
“I love playing team sports,” he said. “I love the competition, but having a sport like golf where every good shot you hit and every mistake you make is all just on you, I really like that.”