Offseason training, with emphasis on his core and flexibility, is one reason Minooka junior Jason Chobar now drives the ball much further than he did as a freshman.
It is not the only reason that Chobar can now drive the ball about 270 yards consistently — and can smack it up to 290 yards on occasion.
"The main thing that helped was me growing 6 inches," Chobar said. "Obviously I have no control over that, but that helped me a ton."
Chobar was not the biggest golfer on the team when he joined the Minooka varsity boys three years ago, but his impact on the Indians has been big from day one. Never has it been bigger than this fall, when Chobar averaged 78.7 strokes per 18 holes and qualified for the Class 3A State Tournament. Those accomplishments have allowed Chobar to repeat as the Morris Daily Herald All-Area Golfer of the Year.
Growing as a golfer
Jason's father, Rick Chobar, is an active golfer, which contributed to Jason getting an early start in the game.
"My earliest memory was always watching the Golf Channel with my dad. My dad definitely got me into golf," he said. "I always remember being about 5 or 6 years old and being at the golf course, swinging away and just trying to hit the ball."
At around the age of 8, Chobar played in his first tournament. The debut was not exactly the beginning of him playing the game regularly until now, however. He says he got away from golf for the most part until around the age of 12.
"The summer from when I was in eighth grade to my freshman year is when I really started to commit to golf again," Chobar said. "There wasn't really anything that sparked it. What got me back into golf was the fact that I loved the game. I love to golf. I play almost every day during the summer."
A hockey player during his youth, Chobar essentially decided to commit to golf over hockey as he was entering Minooka Community High School. He played in some Illinois Junior Golf Association events during the summer before his freshman year in anticipation of joining the Indians.
But Chobar did not really know what to expect when he played in some varsity qualifiers late that summer. He remembers shooting an 82 — which he says was "pretty good for me at that time" — and then beginning his freshman year as the Indians' No. 4 varsity player.
"It was so cool to be able to play with the older guys," Chobar said. "It was funny. I would go to some of these tournaments and — I was real short at the time — I'd be playing against guys who were two heads taller than me. They'd all hit the ball 80 yards longer than I would. I'd just think, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm playing with these kids."
By the end of Chobar's freshman season, he was the No. 2 varsity player for the Indians. He has been their No. 1 guy since the beginning of the 2011 season.
Making the cut
Chobar entered the 2012 season with the disappointment of missing the state cut the year before still on his mind. He played in 10 to 15 tournaments over the summer, as he has for the past few years, and played golf nearly every day that the weather cooperated.
Though his average actually rose slightly from the 77.6 he recorded in 2011 — marking the third straight season that his average was below 80 — Chobar's hard work paid off this postseason. His 82 ranked fourth among advancing individuals at the Plainfield Central Regional. He followed it with a 78 at the Pekin Sectional to qualify for state.
"He has made huge strides in his golf game over the past three years, but I think his mental game is the one that he is working the most on lately," Minooka coach Brian Petrovic said. "He’s learning how to still score even when he’s not playing his best golf. That is where consistency comes from in the game of golf.You are not always going to be hitting on all cylinders each day so you have to have the ability of 'grinding.'"
At The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington, the site of the 3A state tournament, Chobar shot a 40 on his first nine holes but finished the first round with a 46 on the front. Weather forced the cancellation of the second round, leaving Chobar in 95th place.
There were a lot of higher scores because the conditions were tougher, but everybody has to play in it," Chobar said. "So there are really no excuses."
Chobar was Minooka's first state qualifier since 2006, when Ben Turk and Zach Zeiter both made the cut in Class AA in the old two-class system. To Petrovic, he is a fitting player to end the drought.
"He is as dedicated of an athlete as I’ve ever had," Petrovic said. "His passion is golf, and when something is your passion, it's not really work to practice. Instead it's just an opportunity to do what you love to do. He is a very driven individual who is always looking for the next way to improve his game."
In the 2011-12 offseason, Chobar could find motivation from his desire to qualify for state. Now his emphasis is on getting back as a senior — and thinking about what he would like to accomplish at state only once his ticket is punched.
"Goals definitely change. Everyone wants to do well. Everyone has that drive to try and win tournaments, and I'm the same. With it being my senior year, I want to go big or go home, definitely," Chobar said. "But my first goal has to be to get through regionals. Everybody in high school golf has to make it through there. Really, I'm just going to set goals along the way. Start with regionals, and then set goals for state once I get there, if I get there."
After the state tournament ended, it did not take long for Chobar's focus to shift from 2012 to 2013.
"He’s such a great kid and a wonderful golfer," Petrovic said. "He’s already working on improving himself and his game for next year. We’ve met and identified weaknesses that need to be improved for next year. He’s already set goals and has designed his own action plan on what he is going to do from this year to next to achieve all those goals and accomplishments."
Part of that plan is for Chobar to play as much as possible, mostly at the course he belongs to, Joliet Country Club. By early next year, anyway, he should have a regular playing partner.
"Me and my dad play a lot. He's not a big fan of the cold weather, so in the summer is when we get our time in. He can hang with me pretty good. We're both good golfers, so to speak," Chobar said. "It definitely gets competitive. If we go on a vacation in the summer, that only makes it worse, because then we don't play for a good two weeks and we're always talking about that last round the whole time."