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Steady Chambers Gets the Last Word 9/27/21

Steady Chambers gets the last word

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Blaine Chambers was sitting in third period the other day when Alma principal Brian Kirkendoll mentioned his name during the regular announcements. 


The kids sitting to his left and right, Tyson Shepherd, Lucas Hayes, and Shivam Raja, cheered loudly when it was announced — and revealed to his classmates — that he had won the top honors at the 5A-West golf tournament. 


Golfers don’t get the same amount of love as football and basketball players. 


But they have the same tendencies when it comes to competition.


“It’s a really cool feeling,” Chambers said. “During my freshman and sophomore years, I was the medalist for the 5A-West — I actually shot a 68 at Ben Geran (2019). (So) to come out here on a harder course like Cypress (Creek), and shoot that same 68, it’s a really cool feeling.”


But the real transformation, minus his golf status, started in middle school when he made up his mind one day to shed a few pounds. 


“I wasn’t super happy with my body,” Chambers said. “I started realizing I was a little overweight, and so I started eating healthier, and I lost 50 pounds by the end of my eighth-grade year.”


How in the world do you shed 50 pounds in nine months? 


“It really wasn’t that hard,” he said. “I joined track that year, so we started weightlifting and running, and it helped me get in shape.”


Chambers wasn’t unlike other kids when it came to little league sports. 


“I played little league (basketball),” he said. “I did track in junior high, too. But my grandpa (Ronnie Womack) played golf, and my dad played golf, and I started realizing as far as I was hitting the ball, I might have something special. I could go a week or two without practicing and just pick up where I left off. 


“I realized I had something there that I didn’t have in any other sports — it was really fun to just go out there and hit the ball a long way.”


Three weeks ago, his game a little inconsistent, Chambers did what any weekend hack would do: he went to the course to work out the kinks. 


“I was trying to work on my game more,” Chambers said. “I’ve spent a lot of time at the golf course over the past month; a lot more than usual.”


The culprit, Chambers explained, was his putting game. “I was trying to get my weaknesses better, so I could go down to Cypress and play well,” he said. 


There was motivation, too. 


Playing well at Cypress Creek at Greystone in Cabot meant returning to the scene of the crime. In 2020, with the world stuck in neutral because of COVID-19 restrictions, Chambers fired an 83 — missing the cut for the state tournament for the first and only time of his high school career. 


But this year’s return trip to Cypress Creek proved different. 


“I used that (2020) as motivation,” Chambers said. “It was raining and it was really windy. I was having an off-day, and then the conditions changed things, too.”


There was no rain or wind to contend with this year. Rays of sunshine shooting through strands of swaying lone oak trees (hence, where Lonoke County gets its name) and pine trees that line the 7,392-yard par 72 course were the only distractions. 


Chambers didn’t just win the conference tournament this year, he beat the next closest golfer, Van Buren’s Drew Griffiths, by four strokes.


“I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” Chambers said. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’m the best (golfer) in the 5A-West.”


As is the case with more golfers, Chambers and Griffiths have developed a respected relationship with one another. 


“I’ve beaten him a few times,” Chambers said. “This year, in our Dyer Tournament, I didn’t get to beat him, and at Ben Geran, I tied him. So to come out there in our conference tournament and beat him, it was really special.”


How it started?


Chambers swapped his large collection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys for a set of golf clubs shortly after turning 4. He hasn’t put them down since. 


“I got my first set of metal golf clubs when I was 4, and I’ve been playing on-and-off with my dad,” Chambers said. “He helped me with my swing and I’d just go out there and practice.”


Incredibly, to be as advanced as he is, Chambers didn’t start playing on the ASGA Tour until the summer before his junior year. “I wanted the extra competition in the summer to help me get ready for school tournaments,” he said. “I tried to get a little more exposure for colleges, too.”


He was never involved with the popular First Tee of Fort Smith program, either. 


“My first tournament was the first tournament of my ninth-grade year, freshman year” he said. 


Best round 


Chambers’ 68 last week wasn’t his best 18-hole effort. In the fall of 2020, he shot a 66 while competing against Siloam Springs at River Valley Golf Club. 


Though he wasn’t necessarily struggling in all facets of his game, Alma golf coach Eddie Corder was ready to see him shoot a good score again. 


“We’ve been waiting on him to go off,” Corder said. "Everything lined up for him.”


Griffiths finished four back and Russellville’s Noah Abington shot a 73. 


Alma teammates Miles Kendrick shot 98 and teammates Ty Shepherd and Lane Gates each shot 101. 


Chambers will compete at the state meet on Oct. 5 in El Dorado.