Athlete of the golf season: Hayden Kinder

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Senior Hayden Kinder puts the golf ball towards a hole.

It’s not a coincidence that senior Hayden Kinder individually qualified for the 2022 FHSAA Region 3A Golf Tournament. All season and throughout his high school career, the golfer had put in the work to earn the opportunity to represent Oviedo at regions.

“I was proud of the accomplishment,” Kinder said, who has competitively golfed for 8 years. “It was just cool being able to go to the next level for the school.”

As the team’s star golfer, Kinder has the accomplishments to back up his talent. He has been a varsity letterman for all 4 years of his high school golf career and was 2nd team all-conference for his sophomore and junior seasons. During his junior season, Kinder won the ‘Longest Off the Tee’ award and competed in the district championship tournament. 

This season, he was the boys team captain and 1st team all-conference. Kinder is also in the top 10% of all high school golfers in the state of Florida, per his iWanamaker scoring and putting averages. 

“Hayden has the unique ability to live in the moment,” Coach John Howell said. “He has the ability to move on quickly so that one bad shot doesn’t become two or three in a row.”

As the boys team captain, Kinder sets an example of leadership and having a positive attitude to the other players. 

“He was good with the younger players and made them feel like they were an important part of the team from day one,” said Howell. “He would wait until the last group came in each match and spoke to them before we got together as a team.”

Golf is a sport that most players normally compete individually in. Despite the isolated nature of the sport, Kinder makes an effort to unite the team by supporting his teammates.

“Being with your team is kind of a cool experience,” Kinder said. “You’re rooting for your teammates and it’s just a good vibe all around.”

Kinder also demonstrates how dedication to the sport can improve playing technique. He frequently sticks around after team practices to do extra work. 

“He works harder than anybody else on the team,” Tre Dahm, a freshman on the team, said. “Playing with him just helps you play better because we can see him and learn from him.”

At this season’s district tournament, Kinder displayed his ability to think on his feet and bounce back in the middle of a match. Located in Port Orange, the course was experiencing steady winds from the coast that were not ideal golfing conditions. By the 10th hole, Kinder was approaching a score that wouldn’t qualify him for the regional tournament. 

“When I caught up with him…I said that he was still in it [the regional tournament] if he could play even or one under coming in,” Coach Howell said. “He played the final six holes one under to qualify him.” 

Hayden went on to compete in the FHSAA Region 3A Golf Tournament at Cypress Head Golf Club. Although he didn’t advance to the state tournament, his 2022 season was overall successful to end his high school golf career. 

“It was Hayden’s ability to handle stress and live in the moment that helped him all season long,” Howell said.