South Xtra: Seton-LaSalle golfer returns to Peters Township

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Last season at Seton-LaSalle, Joe Deegan tied for the team lead with a 39 scoring average over nine holes and advanced to the WPIAL Class AA individual tournament, where he finished 23rd.

If he wants to make districts again this year, it'll be in Class AAA, as Deegan is transferring back to Peters Township, where he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons.

But he said his main focus right now is just on making the team.

"There are no guarantees on our team," said David Kuhn, Peters Township's head golf coach for the past 15 years and also Deegan's personal golf instructor since fourth grade. "Every player has to make the team each year. It's highly competitive, so he knows he needs to come in ready to compete. We have a lot of talented kids."

Only 10 players make the varsity roster for Peters, and Kuhn doesn't allow juniors or seniors to play junior varsity. So Deegan's only chance of playing will be to beat the rest of the competitors, which Kuhn said likely will be in the mid-30s, for one of the 10 spots.

But Deegan has been putting in the work to prepare himself for this season. He is a part of Kuhn's six-month golf academy that is invitation-only to 15 individuals. The academy consists of once-a-week work with licensed trainers who help increase athletes' flexibility and golf-specific strength, one-on-one training sessions with Kuhn, and the use of high-tech training equipment such as golf launch monitors and AimPoint, a predictive putting technology.

AimPoint is used by the world's top men's and women's golfers, Adam Scott and Stacy Lewis, and Kuhn is one of 143 certified instructors of AimPoint worldwide.

Additionally, those participating in Kuhn's golf academy got to travel to Bethesda, Md., to play on Congressional Country Club's Blue Course, which was host to the 2011 U.S. Open.

After putting in the work at Kuhn's academy and on his own, Deegan's improvement is noticeable, Kuhn said.

"Joe has really matured," Kuhn said. "The work he has put in has really contributed to him minimizing the mistakes on a course that a younger player may make."

Deegan's been impressive on the Southwest Pennsylvania Junior Golf Tour in July, finishing second at Cedarbrook Golf Course three days after winning at Rolling Hills Country Club, which is his home course.

"I was able to play my own game," Deegan said of his win. "I don't think I played my best, but I was able to get it done."

Kuhn said the win was good for Deegan's confidence as he returns to Peters Township.

Deegan said the decision to return to Peters Township wasn't based on golf, though, but on academics and tradition.

"My mom went to Peters Township and so did my uncle, and my sister is going to be there. I just want to continue the family tradition."

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