This past fall, Palmerton senior golfer Mike Englert faced a pretty serious situation in the Regional scholastic golf tournament a 10-person playoff for the final three qualifying spots in the PIAA Golf Tournament.
After three of the 10 players were eliminated on the first hole, the remaining seven teed off at the 18th hole.
Facing similar situations, 233 yards out, with water in front of the green, the other players opted for "laying up." Englert did not. Instead, he retreated to his golf bag and emerged with a five wood. He landed it 20 feet away, two-putted for the birdie and solidified his spot amongst the state's elite scholastic golfers.
For that effort, as well as a plethora of others, Englert has been named the 2009 TIMES NEWS Golfer of the Year.
Englert also had the distinct honor of playing alongside fellow Palmerton senior golfer Dan Costenbader, the 2008 TIMES NEWS Golfer of the Year.
He finished second to Costenbader at this year's Colonial League Tournament, helping the team win the tournament, but finishing second in the league regular season to Saucon Valley.
At the District 11 tournament, Englert represented well with a fifth-place finish, shooting an 18-hole score of 79, before tightening things up for the nine-hole round with a 36.
At Regionals, Englert's talents shone bright.
With the top 26 moving on to the State Tournament, the Palmerton senior shot a 78 and wound up tied for 24th. This called for 10 players to move on to a playoff hole situation.
"I had played that hole earlier and I went for it on a very similar shot situation," Englert recalls. "I got it to the green on that shot, so I knew I could do it this time, too."
"We're watching six other guys and everyone lays up," Palmerton head golf coach Tom "Doc" Gilligan said. "Mike goes and grabs the wood, smacks it across the water and that's what it was. Mike wasn't going to take the chance of laying back and being frightened. But that's Mike. It was a brave shot and he pulled it off."
Two putts later, Englert secured a spot in the State Tournament.
At the State Tournament, Englert continued to ride that hot streak, leading the field of players after the first day of competition. He fired a 69 the first day and was playing incredibly well throughout the entire tournament. With the field filled with talent and the highest caliber of scholastic competitors, the rest of the field continued to apply pressure to the leader.
With it coming down to the last hole, and the conditions continuously worsening, Englert took his tee shot in the rough.
"I was only a stroke down and I had to go for it," Englert recalled. "I was in the rough, 220 out, the mist and wind were circling over the water and I had nothing going for me. He was in the middle of the fairway so I was figuring I had to go for birdie, so I went for it. Even though I ended up in the water, I don't regret it because there was no way I was going to wedge out and play for second."
Mike finished tied for sixth at States, his best career finish at the event.
Despite the individual results and strong performances on his own, Englert admits the most important part was the success of the team around him.
"Being 15-1 last year and 16-1 this past year, it just feels great to be a part of a winning team," he stated. "Most Palmerton teams that I've been on don't usually have success like that and usually finish around 500. So being almost undefeated the past two seasons is something great to be a part of."
"Mike puts his team on his back and has carried us for four years," Gilligan said. "With Dan in Texas for that one season, what Mike did was to show some of the other guys that it was possible for our team to win. They would watch him pull off an amazing shot, be brave and just carry himself the correct way in the sport and it makes those other players better."
As for what draws Englert to the sport he loves, it comes down to stress.
"Most of the time, you're going to like what you're good at," Englert said. "With other sports, like wrestling, you have to cut weight and there are a lot of other things that are stressful associated with the sport. But once that springtime comes, it's nice to be able to get out there and play a nice, relaxing round of golf. It's stress-relieving."
Englert took time to thank the people that made it possible all of these years.
"Doc Gilligan was great and it wasn't so much helping me with the swing and technique, he was able to help us so much mentally, which is a bigger part of the game," Englert said. "He was there for us, kept us in line and helped us focus. My family was also a big part of my success and I want to thank them for coming out and supporting me for years. It feels good to get any award, and to be the best in the area for a year, it's a nice accomplishment."