Aidan O’Donovan feels he is finally breaking out of his late-summer slump — and that’s bad news for the rest of the field in Sunday’s Cape Cod National Golf Club High School Invitational.
“It happens every summer,” the 18-year-old Somerville High senior said. “You kind of go through these stretches. At the beginning of the year, I thought I was the greatest player ever. I felt good over the ball, I knew where it was going putting. I just had full control over my game. Slowly, as the summer went on, I just lost the driver and the irons and the wedges.”
The toughest part?
“Once you get [it] in your own head, it’s tough to snap out of it,” O’Donovan said. “I hit more balls than I can even count — it was a grind for sure, but I’m coming out of it now.”
O’Donovan was a standout for the Highlanders even before he was in the high school building — a development that stunned his parents, Brian and Denise.
“He got a waiver to play golf as an eighth-grader, which we didn’t even know existed at the time,” said his father, in his third season as the golf coach at Somerville High.
“And then he got a waiver to play high school hockey in eighth grade. My wife and I were OK with it because he was really small and we knew he wouldn’t play. We figured, ‘How tough could it be?’ ”
The third and youngest O’Donovan son ended up being a key contributor for the Highlanders that season.
“He played on the first and second lines and every power play,” Brian O’Donovan said. “Our hearts were in our throats most of the time.”
Aidan took plenty of lumps as a youngster while trying to keep pace with his older brothers, Seamus and Devin, two former star athletes at Belmont Hill. Seamus played linebacker at Division 3 Endicott College and Devin pitched at Division 1 Austin Peay in Tennessee.
Ask Aidan who is the best athlete in the family and he pauses before answering. He can’t forget his 15-year-old sister, Addison, a sophomore who plays volleyball, basketball, and softball at Arlington Catholic.
“My older brother Seamus was arguably the best athlete in the family,” said Aidan, who also plays baseball at Somerville, in addition to golf and hockey. “That’s a tough talking point — the best athlete in the family. He’s a great athlete, my other brother Devin is too, and my sister is a stud. She’s the boss, whatever she says goes.”
And he is thankful that his sports-crazed family supported him — in their own playful way—through his slump on the course.
“I’ve got to definitely give credit to my dad, my brothers, and even my sister — getting chirped a couple times a day by them helped,” Aidan said.
He is seeing a lot more of his parents these days — Brian is a recent retiree after 32 years as a Somerville firefighter and Denise also recently retired after working for 31 years as a registered nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital. But he is especially appreciative of the father-son, coach-athlete relationship he’s fostered with his dad.
“Having my father as the coach is special,” Aidan said. “He’s up with me at the course all the time, we’re always practicing and talking and picking each other’s brains about different shots.”
And the two discuss focus, too. Heading to the University of Rhode Island, where he will play golf, O’Donovan is always mentally sharp in big matches.
Playing in the Greater Boston League, however, presents a different challenge: Many of his opponents are novices.
“I probably played more rounds this summer than all of the kids I’ve played have in their lifetime,” O’Donovan said.
O’Donovan, then, is thankful for his summer rounds at Cummaquid Golf Club. His family joined the course near their West Yarmouth home three years ago, and he loves playing alongside Colin and Jack Spencer, two brothers from Mashpee, whose father, Steve, is the head pro at Cummaquid.
“When he joined a couple summers ago, it was nice because there weren’t really any other junior golfers at Cummaquid,” said Colin Spencer, a returning Globe All-Scholastic and the state’s 2021 junior amateur champion.
“The past couple years we’ve gotten very close, which has been fun. It’s nice to have somebody your age there because it’s easier to connect to.”
O’Donovan credits Spencer for introducing him to US Challenge Cup tournaments, which helped him connect with Xaverian senior Joey Lenane, and Belmont Hill senior John Broderick, a Wellesley resident and Vanderbilt commit. They regularly play together on weekends.
Although he recognizes playing in the GBL is unique, O’Donovan said his experience at Somerville has motivated him in ways others wouldn’t understand.
“I’d definitely say I had to work a little harder than some kids to get where I am in this short period of time,” O’Donovan said. “I definitely carry a chip on my shoulder. It’s fun seeing these kids from outside of the city, they have golf courses right around the corner. Seeing my name up on leaderboards is a little extra special.”
While O’Donovan and Colin Spencer highlight the invitational’s field of individual competitors, Lincoln-Sudbury returns after winning the 2019 title at Cape Cod Golf National Golf Club in Brewster.
“To have the opportunity to play there again, regardless of what our standings are, is a tremendous opportunity,” L-S coach Chris Banard said. “The guys that are playing are really looking forward to having a solid test on a great course. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
The field includes Catholic Conference rivals BC High, Xaverian, St. John’s Shrewsbury, and St. John’s Prep, as well as Concord-Carlisle, Winchester, Weston, and Westford Academy. The individuals also include Scituate’s John Kingsley and Austin Ryan, James Robbins (North Andover), Aidan Acevedo (Haverhill), and Ryan Downes (Longmeadow).
Teams will be competing for the Sioux Campbell Trophy, named in honor of the wife of former CCN head pro Jim Campbell, who died in 2015 after a battle with leukemia.