Billy Bob Hoyt will soon join the ranks of a select group of PHS graduates who have earned Division I athletic scholarships.
Among the elite Hoyt will align himself are Jeremy Hoff (track and field; Northern Arizona University), Christopher Pirch (wrestling; Cornell), Nichole Engstrom (track and field; University of Arizona), Julie Gunzel (track and field; Colorado State), Rachel Ray (softball; Southeastern Louisiana) and Bryan Zumbro (baseball; U.S. Air Force Academy).
Hoyt will officially accept the University of Hawaii's scholarship offer in a signing ceremony Nov. 15 in Payson.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "Hawaii is a place I really want to play."
Hoyt's decision to accept the Hawaii scholarship came at the conclusion of his three-day visit to the university campus in mid-October.
"I just like everything about it and I liked the coach (Ronn Miyashiro)," Hoyt said.
According to GolfStat, Miyashiro's recruiting class of freshman in fifth-ranked in the nation.
About Hoyt and the other freshmen, Miyashiro said,"I'm not going to recruit a kid with the intention of having him sit out for a year and redshirt. If I'm going to recruit somebody, that person is going to be somebody who's going to play and who's going to contribute immediately."
That translates into meaning Hoyt will be playing on the Division I circuit next season.
The Hawaii campus is located on the island of Oahu where Hoyt and other team members have about seven top-notch courses they can play. There are courses on other islands in the chain where Warrior players also have playing privileges.
Although Hoyt's father and coach, Bob, admits sending his son to a university so far away is a bit unsettling, he's happy with the choice.
"He spends the next four years of his life on the beaches of Hawaii," he said. "Not a bad choice."
Earning a scholarship bid
Hoyt validated Miyashiro's confidence in him by turning in a first-place finish at the JGAA Fall Classic tournament Nov. 9 at Gilbert's Western Skies Golf Club.
Competing in the boys championship division, Hoyt tied with Sierra Vista's Cody Paterson for top honors. Both carded two-under-par 70s. In a sudden death playoff on par 4, No. 10, the two were on the green in two shots.
"I two-putted the hole and he took three," Hoyt said. "I won by a stroke, but I didn't feel any pressure. I've been there (sudden death) before."
The playoff was the second in just three days in which Hoyt had been involved.
At the Class 4A Arizona State Championships Nov. 5 and 6 at Sundance Golf Club near Buckeye, Hoyt tied with two other golfers for first in regulation play.
On the first hole of the sudden death showdown, Stephen Cook of Mingus out-dueled Hoyt and Clint Oleson of Bradshaw Mountain for the crown.
During his four-year varsity prep career at Payson High School, Hoyt was perhaps the most accomplished player to pass through the ranks of the program.
His achievements included finishing as the individual state runner-up as a freshman, sophomore and senior. His junior season, he was the state bronze medalist.
In 2000, he led the Horns to the school's first and only state golf championship.
In addition to his prep accomplishment, Hoyt has excelled on the national junior tour for the past several years.
It was a strong showing last spring at the AJGA's Heather Farr Classic that he believes caught the eye of university recruiters. Hoyt tied for seventh place, battling against a field that included some of the most promising golfers from Colorado, California, Utah, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Hawaii, New York and Canada.
A longtime foe of Hoyt's, Sedona's Jake Grodzinksy, finished one stroke ahead him. Grodzinksy eventually accepted a scholarship to Duke University.
In addition to participating in the Heather Farr Classic, Hoyt shined in AJGA tournaments held around the United States including South Carolina and Las Vegas.
Hoyt, an honor student at PHS with a 3.8 GPA, is uncertain of his college major, but would like to focus on business.
His eventual goal, he said, is to play on the PGA tour. If that doesn't pan out, he hopes to land a job as a golf club pro.
The teen credits his interest in the sport to his father who urged his son to take up the sport.
Because Hoyt began playing when he was very young and there were no clubs to fit the knee-high tyke, his dad sawed off the shafts of an old set that was in storage.
Hoyt also attributes his success to the coaching of Bret Morse.
"He helped me a lot, especially the little quirks in my swing," he said.
Morse said Hoyt's success is due to his work ethic and mental toughness.
"He had plenty of both of those," Morse said.
By totally immersing himself in golf, Hoyt had to make sacrifices over the years. As a freshman at PHS, he had to give up baseball because it was played in the same spring season as golf.
"I really loved baseball. It was tough to quit," he said.
A year later, Hoyt stepped away from a promising wrestling career so he could focus on golf.
Last fall, when golf became a fall sport at PHS, Hoyt was forced to give up football.
The sacrifices, he said, all will become worth it when he finally pens the division I scholarship that has been a goal since he entered high school.