Through YOC: Play. Laugh. Repeat
|Miami Valley Trio Balance Camaraderie, Competition|
By Dominic Dastoli, Contributing Writer to Miami Valley Golf Foundation
Aaron Tobe’s teenage mind can only hold so much information.
“I don’t know my mom and dad’s birthdays,” he admitted. “And I have no clue what my social security number is.”
But, he has memorized his eight-digit Youth on Course member number. And for good reason: he’s used it often. Among the 3,046 rounds of golf played by local Youth on Course members in 2020, Tobe accounted for 69 of them, the most of any junior golfer in the Miami Valley.
Just don’t ask him when he first joined Youth on Course, the nationwide program that allows juniors to play 9-hole rounds for $5 or less at select courses.
“I have no clue,” Tobe said. “When Eddie and Jacob say we started, that’s when we started.”
Eddie Staudt and Jacob Lehmann have known Tobe for so long, they say it feels like “forever.” The three of them, currently sophomores at Centerville High School, have participated in Youth on Course since the 6th grade.
They’ve played together so many times, they’ve practically become mirror images of themselves. They share the same ball flight (a slight right to left draw) and favorite post round drink (a Speedy Freeze, from Speedway).
The three of them share such a mind meld that they’ve unintentionally worn the same outfit on more than one occasion. “Getting in the car and seeing we’re wearing the same thing is just kinda weird,” Tobe said with a sigh.
Lehmann’s mother Melissa, part of the rotating carpool with Staudt and Tobe’s parents, sympathized with them.
“Aww. Did you guys coordinate things?” she asked.
“We’d just be like, ‘No,’” said Tobe.
They also share one other, rather crucial thing in common.
“Everything with us is a competition,” said Lehmann.
After hitting their approach shots, they’ll occasionally race to the green to see who can arrive first. On the way home from tournaments, the person who shoots the highest score must sit in the middle seat. Tobe once endured a two-hour car ride home from Columbus.
The ultimate stakes, though, come in their daily matches, often at Yankee Trace, with the loser having to buy Speedy Freezes for the group. The biggest loser to date? “Definitely Jacob,” Tobe said. “100%.”
“100%,” Lehmann said. “Those two are vicious.”
Some of their most notable successes have been divided neatly among them. Only Staudt has competed in matches for Centerville’s varsity golf team. Tobe, nicknamed “tanks” for his prodigious “bombs” off the tee, owns the low competitive round, a 78. And Lehmann has made the lone hole-in-one, although the golf ball he used to do it has been lost to, um, history.
“This is something I’m not proud of,” said Tobe.
Several years ago, during a round at Rollandia Golf Center, Tobe stuffed his tee shot on the par-three 5th hole inside five feet. “Beat that,” he said to Lehmann, who stepped up and promptly knocked his shot in the hole. “We were dancing and running,” Lehmann remembered. “I think I called every person in my contact list after that.”
Two weeks later, during a round at Yankee Trace, Lehmann hit his approach shot on the 8th hole into the water near the green. He looked into his bag for another ball and realized he only had one left: his hole-in-one ball. Reluctantly, he put it in play then knocked his next shot on the green.
“To this day, we don’t really know what happened after that,” Lehmann said.
Tobe has an earnest, yet inadequate explanation.
“I don’t know why, but my 6th or 7th grade mind thought it would be great to hit his ball in the lake then find it and give it back to him” he said.
The two of them spent the next 10 minutes searching for Lehmann’s ball, but never found it. Lehmann still remembers the moment they abandoned their search. “We’re standing there looking at each other and I’m like, ‘Don’t come too close to me, man.’” Every time Lehmann has played that hole since then, he can’t help but think that his hole-in-one ball is in that lake, somewhere.
Tobe struck again during a now infamous skiing trip to Perfect North this past winter.
Admittedly, he has been skiing just a handful of times in his life, and only “vaguely, kind of” knows how to turn or stop. And on this day, on one of the steepest trails on the mountain, Tobe sped straight down it.
“What you’re not supposed to do,” said Lehmann. “Somehow, he makes it to the bottom without falling and we’re like, ‘No way. He just did that. Wow.’”
Emboldened, he went down the same trail again, and took the same direct line again.
“All of a sudden, we hear some yelling,” said Lehmann, who followed Tobe down the trail. “We get over the edge of the trail and we see that Aaron has wiped out. His helmet had come off. Skis were everywhere. Bloody face.”
Lehmann can still hear the audible gasp made by the people on the chairlift who watched Tobe tumble to the ground.
“I was a little bloody but, you know,” said Tobe.
Later that day, Tobe realized he had been wearing two left ski boots.
“He’s always kind of a mess,” said Lehmann.
Still, Lehmann and Staudt have entrusted Tobe with their lives. Since receiving his driver’s license, the first among them to do so, Tobe has been “chauffeuring” them all over town.
For Tobe, COVID-19 “kinda sucked” for one obvious reason: “Not getting to see all my friends.”
But once state and local officials deemed golf facilities safe to reopen, Tobe texted a few of his friends who had never played golf before and encouraged them to sign up for Youth on Course
Within days, several of them posted stories on Snapchat about their day at the golf course.
Tobe, naturally, resumed his regular matches at Yankee Trace with Lehmann and Staudt.
“When courses reopened, it was great to see Jacob and Eddie and get a sense of normalcy back in our lives,” said Tobe.
Of all the good times he has shared with Lehmann and Staudt, Tobe admits to having a favorite. It happened almost exactly three years ago, he said. In vivid detail, he describes the memory stored safely inside his teenage mind. This story, like so many others, ends with a laugh.
For Youth on Course to continue to flourish, it needs our golf community’s involvement. For just $40, you can sponsor a junior for an entire season. To play it forward and give, visit mvgf.org. If you have a junior who would like to join, visit youthoncourse.org.