When West Windsor-Plainsboro High South senior Byron Chin turns in his scorecard, it stands out from other golfers, and not just for its low numbers.
“Everything is so meticulous,” Pirates boys golf coach Bob Schurtz said. “You’d almost think it was printed.”
The WW-P South senior downplays it.
“It’s just numbers in boxes still,” Chin said. “It’s a bit neater. It serves the same purpose.”
Numbers play a big part in Chin’s life. When he was growing up, he favored math among his school subjects.
And when he took up golf, he started aiming to shoot low numbers. Math and golf have been relatable, though each has its own challenge.
“In math,” he said, “there’s a little less variability from day to day unlike golf, where you have good days that are really good and bad days you struggle with factors like rain and wind. A lot more goes into it. With math, you know if you’re prepared for a test. You know if you studied for it and it’s on the test, certain things you’re ready for. There’s a lot more preparation in golf for all the possible scenarios.”
Chin excels in both. He recently was one of 301 students from across the country to compete in the U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad, a nine-hour test over two days that is so difficult, Chin felt good about completing two and a half of the six problems given.
“It’s higher than I expected, so I’m happy about that,” said Chin, who also took the test as a junior. “I did well compared to how I thought about this competition in the past.”
On the golf course, Chin is the top golfer for a Pirates team that started 12-1. He is among the best in the county and section. He served notice of his ability when he won the sectional tournament as a sophomore, and he’s hoping to return to the top in his final year with WW-P South.
“They’re similar to me in that they’re competitions and you’re competing with the best in math or golf,” Chin said. “It was also a great experience because the people that take the math exam are probably the best mathematicians in high school in the nation. It’s similar to what I’ll be doing at sectionals and states. I’m competing against them to see just how I do. It’s a great experience.”
Chin is looking for a strong finish to his scholastic career before he approaches his next goal of making the men’s team at Princeton University. Chin is already on par with the academics at the prestigious school across Route 1. He has taken math classes at Princeton this year: honors analysis in the first semester and linear algebra this semester.
Chin also is working on reaching the level it will take to walk on the Princeton golf team. The head pro at Springdale Golf Club told him that only two players have walked on the Princeton team in about a decade. Most are recruits.
“I have to work hard and practice,” Chin said. “I know around what level I have to be at to make the team. That’s what I’m going to be working towards as I finish out the high school season and throughout the summer.”
Chin started this high school season slower than he hoped, but has regained his form. His strength lies in a masterful short game.
“Over four years, playing matches every day and practicing every day, it’s helped me grow mentally as a player,” Chin said. “I remember being extremely nervous and not performing to the best of my abilities freshman year. I find I’m able to perform better under pressure now and keep myself focused on playing the next shot until the round is over.”
Chin is considerably bigger and stronger than when he first joined WW-P South. Schurtz remembers him coming to the driving range as a skinny eighth-grader with his mother, an LPGA instructor, and seeing Pirate team members start to give him pointers. He’s developed tremendously since then.
“He’s gotten stronger,” said Schurtz, the Pirates head coach. “When he lines up, you can see he has muscles in his back, which is so different from what he looked like as a freshman.”
Sophomore year ended with him winning sectionals. This year, his accomplishments have been even more memorable because they have contributed to an outstanding start for the Pirates team. They are deep and talented. The usual top four have been Chin, fellow senior Ishaan Attri, junior transfer Armaan Singh and freshman Aaron Yagnik.
WW-P South felt confident coming into this season with what they returned from last year, including senior Yash Dave and junior Dereck Wang. They were bolstered by the additions of Singh, who moved from India, and Yagnik, a freshman who has been in the top four all season. This year, 12 players have teed off for WW-P South in varsity matches,” Schurtz said. They have eight players who are averaging 44 or lower.
Chin says now the team is working toward finishing strong. The Pirates were disappointed to finish in fourth at the Mercer County Championships, a stroke behind Pennington for third and 11 strokes behind runner-up Hopewell Valley, who they beat in the regular season.
WW-P South plays in the Central/South Jersey sectional on Monday, May 15 at Linwood Country Club. The Pirates have already seen good teams at the Garden State Cup, the Galloway Challenge and the High Bridge Hills tournament, and those tournaments were scheduled to prepare WW-P South for competition like it will see at sectionals.
It’s one of the toughest sectionals in the state, but Chin isn’t one to back down from competition. He relishes the chance to play against the best.
“I won there sophomore year, so that’s a big help to me,” Chin said. “I know I can play well on the course. I know the course better. I’m looking forward to the tournament and hoping I’ll play well so I have the chance to play in the Tournament of Champions again.”