Changing course: Cornett, a former baseball player at West Forsyth, takes up golf for his senior year

Published 12:09 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

For anybody who watched The Masters this past weekend knows how hard it is to play golf as a professional.
But for Chris Cornett, he elected to play high school golf this spring for the first time as a senior at West Forsyth. Cornett switched to golf after playing baseball most of his life.
Cornett is the lone senior on the team. To illustrate that a change like this didn’t faze him, Cornett, who is the son of Christopher Cornett Sr., who was in military, was born in Japan, grew up in Mebane, and moved to Clemmons during his sophomore year at West Forsyth after transferring from Eastern Alamance High School.
“When we were told the news that we were moving from Mebane to Clemmons, I actually wasn’t too upset,” Cornett said. “I like change every so often, and I felt like it was going to be good even though, especially with COVID just happening, that was going to be good. It was hard, online school. But I knew I wasn’t the only kid going through it.”
One thing that helped Cornett was playing baseball. Last season, playing outfield for the Titans. West Forsyth finished 25-6 and lost in the NCHSAA Class 4-A quarterfinals to Charlotte Providence.
Something happened to Cornett’s passion for baseball after last season. He played in the fall league at Southwest Athletics and something clicked for him.
“I played in the fall league, and it was fun,” he said. “I enjoyed it. And this winter I just felt like I didn’t love it as much anymore, and I knew I wasn’t going to play college baseball. And my girlfriend, who is going to play (golf) at Catawba College…”
His girlfriend isn’t just any golfer. She’s Mary-Paige King, the daughter of boy’s golf Coach Kevin King.
Mary-Paige King finished tied for 13th last October in the NCHSAA Class 4-A girls state golf championship at Pinehurst No. 6.
“The reason I was even able to start on the team this season for the golf team was him (King),” Cornett said. “Even when I was still playing baseball, I was going to the driving range with them. And they were still helping me get my swing. But they knew I wanted to play.”
Even though it’s his first year playing on a team, Cornett had been swinging a golf club at the range.
“This is my first year playing competitively, but I’ve been hitting the range,” he said. “I’ve been learning.”
His answer for wanting to play golf is like switching clubs because of the wind.
“I didn’t play because of her (Mary-Paige),” Cornett said. “I started playing and played a little bit before, but not like the level I am now. I feel like just knowing her helped me have even more of a love for golf. Now, I just kept playing more. I was hitting the driving ranges more than I was hitting the batting cages. And I was ready to be done with baseball, I guess.”
The toughest part about switching from baseball to golf was telling Coach Brad Bullard, the baseball coach for the Titans.
“He was in a meeting when I walked into the room,” Cornett said of Bullard. “And I asked, ‘Are you busy at the moment?’. It’s just like the nerves of doing that were crazy. My thoughts were just worrisome going to do that after playing the sport all my life.”
Does Cornett miss baseball now?
“I miss my teammates,” he said. “That’s what I miss. That’s what I miss the most.”
Cornett said that Kevin King didn’t even know that he wanted to try out for the team.
“They’re all young. I’m the only senior,” Cornett said. “But like when I told Bullard that I didn’t want to play anymore, I went to King to get the golf tryout dates that afternoon because I think it was that afternoon.”
Cornett said that his best score this spring is 44 through nine holes.
“I’ve been working a lot. I’ve had not even a year competitively, Cornett said. “I started playing in January competitively, and then just hitting the range before, but I’ve had two 44s.
“My biggest thing was, the week before spring break, we played Davie in the Yadkin Cup at Salem Glen and I won my match against Davie’s 5-seed, who’s not a bad golfer at all.”
Cornett said he played Pinehurst No. 3 and at Tanglewood during spring break.
“The biggest thing, I think I’ve improved a lot,” he said. “Playing in matches definitely helps.”
West Forsyth had a match this past Wednesday, and the regular season is scheduled to conclude on Monday, May 1, with the NCHSAA Class 4-A Midwest Regional scheduled for either May 8 or 9, and the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship is scheduled May 15-16 at Pinehurst No. 8.
“We have some good golfers,” Cornett said. “We have two, our squad, our top-five put numbers up below 45.”
Cornett, who will be going to UNC Charlotte in the fall, majoring in mathematics and business, hasn’t totally dismissed baseball for golf. He has worked the concession stand at Southwest Athletics for the past two years.
He added that selling corndogs are his favorite item to sell because they’re easy to make.
“One of my good friends I met when moved here worked there,” he said. “He’s a year under me. So, he’s work there for a while before I showed up. I knew he worked there, and I wanted to start working. I heard it was a good gig.”