It’s been quite the season for Bode Salas, to put it mildly. After winning a state championship when he was a sophomore, the senior came into the year as a favorite to take home his second state title. Salas consistently found himself at the top of the region standings and took that momentum with him into the state championships.
“All season, I’ve matured more as a golfer mentally than I have in the past. I felt like my game has improved as far as course management and carrying myself mentally,” Salas explained. “All season, I was working on staying patient, not forcing anything or expecting any scores, just playing the game one shot at a time.”
This approach, to go along with the familiarity of the course, gave him a lot of confidence for his final two rounds of high school golf.
“Going into the state tournament, I had a really good game plan,” Salas said. “I knew exactly where to hit every single tee shot on the course, we’d played it enough. I wanted to stay patient and just let my game do the work.”
Salas went on to explain how important it is to stick to the game plan after making it, no matter the circumstances. “You make a game plan and you don’t let the scenario change it. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning the tournament by two shots or if you are down four. If it’s the right thing to do numbers wise, to go for the green, you’re just going to go for the green. You stick to your game plan and trust it. One of the most difficult things in golf and in sports is to not let the results or outcome get in the way mentally. You just have to stay present and commit to your game plan.”
The state tournament is a different animal than the rest of the matches in a season. During the year, players play one round of golf in all competitions, but the state championship consists of two rounds.
“I love multiple-day tournaments,” said Salas. “My favorite tournaments are three-day tournaments because you always have a chance. It separates good players from great players. All you’re really doing the first day is you want to get comfortable on the course and find a little rhythm. You can’t win the golf tournament on the first day, but you can definitely lose it.”
It was a bumpy start for Salas, but true to his word and approach, he stayed within himself and demonstrated his maturity on the course. “In all truthfulness, I didn’t play my best golf either days at the state tournament. The first day, I double bogeyed my second hole. When you do that, it kinda throws you for a loop. It’s obviously not part of the game plan. I wasn’t playing my best golf, but I managed to hang in there and sneak out a 71 the first round.”
Salas drew back the curtain on what led to the slow start. “I felt so ready and so confident going into the tournament that I expected too much, rather than just trusting it. For the second day, I was just like, ‘you know what, this is my last high school round of golf I’ll ever play, so we might as well go have fun.'”
And fun he had. Salas may not have played his best golf according to his high standards, but he still was tied for first (-1) after the opening round.
The front nine caused him some problems the final day. In fact, there was a brief four-way tie for first early in the second round. “Then, I birdied seven and I eagled nine. It brought me down to red numbers for the day and I was like, ‘let’s go tear it up and see what I can do on the back nine.'”
The highly competitive nature of the match did not have a big effect on Salas, simply because he was not aware of the positioning. Once more, he chose to stick to his game plan.
“I told everyone around me that I didn’t want to know [the live scores],” he said. “I just wanted to play and not think about it too much.” That wish was not granted to the fullest extent due to his family showing their cards.
“My parents and my sister were watching [the scores] pretty heavily and I knew it was close based on how tense and stressed out they were the whole second round. I was watching them the whole time and was like ‘it’s got to be close because these guys are freaking out,'” mentioned Salas with a slight grin.”I didn’t know where I was until I was walking to the green on Hole 18. I didn’t know the entire time, but I figured it would be close.”
After it was all said and done, Salas remained alone on top to win his second state championship. It was obviously a sweet feeling, although different from when he took it home as a sophomore.
“Winning my sophomore year was definitely more emotional. It was my first time, and I wasn’t expected to win.” Salas went on, “[In contrast,] winning my senior year was a really good way to top it off. It almost just felt like a good way to end it, a celebratory way to end it.”
He continued, “But I was almost more happy with how the team played even though we took third. It almost felt like we won because of how well we played the second day.”
The Dinos were sitting in seventh overall after the first round and finished third after an amazing second day. That is why Salas was so excited for his team and the group’s collective accomplishment. That selflessness extends past course and to his classmates, future Dinos and into the community.
“It means more to me to be a good role model and classmate than to win. I would rather [it help] other people get into golf,” answered Salas when asked what it means to bring home another state championship. “I’ve had a lot of great feedback. A good thing about this small town is that everyone is pretty awesome. I hope people realize that they can win a state championship no matter what sport they are in. I just hope it has a positive effect on people, and that means more to me than winning, if we can grow something here in the town. I hope it has a big impact.”
Salas has certainly left his mark on Carbon High and his hope is that his example inspires further Dino success. Salas will graduate in the spring before continuing his golf career at Utah Tech.