BHS’s Campbell surges in senior golf season

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Belen golfer Martin Campbell is very serious about every aspect of his golf game –  including taking pictures it seems.

“Come on, Marty Max, smile,” the senior’s teammates tease while he poses with his putter for a picture during practice at Tierra del Sol Golf Club in Rio Communities. A small smile creeps onto his lips before he returns to his focused gaze.

Kenn Rodriguez -News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HIGH GOLFER Martin Campbell was the first high school golfer from Valencia County to qualify for the upcoming Class 4A State Golf Tournament. Campbell is also among the favorites to claim the Districy 6-4A individlau golf title at the league tournament Monday in Grants.

It’s fitting Campbell chose his putter to hold while being photographed. The Belen-native says his short game is the best part of his game.

“I like the mental part of the game,” he says. “So my short game is probably my strength.”

Campbell was the first Valencia County golfer this year to qualify for the upcoming state tournament, and along with the area’s other individual qualifiers — Los Lunas golfers Colby Kerr, Chesten Browning and Dylan Gonzales — is among the favorites to win individual honors at the District 6-4A golf tournament Monday in Grants.

While the state tournament is coming, Campbell says his only focus now is the district tournament.

“I’ve been able to work more in the spring, trying to get consistent with my swing,” Campbell says. “The one thing I’m working on is not rushing myself, I do that sometimes.”

Campbell shot an 84 on Monday at the Santa Fe Invitational to help lead the Eagles to a second-place finish and an 84 to take third in the Abbie Paiz Invitational at Tierra del Sol on Thursday as Belen took third place.

Campbell, who played basketball and football before discovering golf, says he’s been playing for six years. The senior had never before qualified for state. But he kicked his golf training into high gear this past summer.

“I guess I didn’t really have my mind to it before,” Campbell explains, saying he was more focused on having fun. “This is my senior year, so I wanted to do better. I just worked more.”

The work paid off immediately as Campbell got qualifying “legs” in three of the four fall tournaments he entered with his Belen teammates. He’s since added two more legs for a total of five going into the state tournament, which this year will be staged at the University of New Mexico’s Championship Golf Course. Two of the fall tournaments were staged at the Coyote del Malpais Golf Course in Grants, a course that had vexed him up to this year and will host the district tournament Monday.

“I’d played it six times before and never broke 90,” he says, admitting the lack of success on the course may have given him a mental block. “But in the fall I just went out and played my game. It made me change the way I thought about other courses too.”

With his final two high school tournaments on the horizon, Campbell is beginning to look towards the future, with college and a potential professional career beginning to come into his thoughts. But the senior emphasizes that his only focus for now is his final two tournaments as an Eagle.

“I want to play college golf, if I can,” he says. “And I’d like to play pro. I think I can do it if I put a lot a lot of work into it.”

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