Jimmy Grem acknowledges he chose the wrong time to change his golf swing last year. The then-rising senior had just finished a standout spring season for Calvert Hall, finishing fifth overall in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship.
But the Towson resident decided to overhaul his approach to bring more consistency to his game by working with Caves Valley Country Club teaching pro Justin Sheehan in May.
“I just got a whole new swing, so it was like starting from scratch,” Grem said.
A summer full of tournaments where college coaches would be watching awaited Grem and his new swing.
“I played absolutely horrible during the summer,” Grem said. “I thought (the improvement) would be quick. Now, I know everything takes time. It takes hitting 50,000 balls for it to work out. I had hit 5,000.”
Fourteen months after making the change, Grem seems to be finding a groove.
Proof is in tournament results for the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Grem, who won the 16-18 age division in the Bobby Gorin Memorial Golf Tournament at Rockville’s Woodmont Country on July 18 by shooting a 71.
He last won a junior tournament in Ocean City two years ago.
“It was huge because I have been practicing really hard and haven’t gotten all the results from the work I put in,” Grem said. “It felt good to finally get a win under my belt. This is the biggest tournament I have won. I just want to prove I could do it and compete with all the other good kids in the area.”
Grem followed his effort in Rockville by firing a 2-under-par 68 and 73 in the one-day U.S. Amateur Qualifier on his home course of Hunt Valley Country Club on July 23.
Grem is hoping performances like the one in Rockville will land him a spot on the Towson University golf team as a sophomore when he would join former Calvert Hall teammate Alex Church.
“I want to show Towson’s coach (Brian Yaniger) I can perform under pressure,” Grem said, recalling that Yaniger said he couldn't offer him a spot his freshman year "because the team is full.”
Calvert Hall coach Drew Forrester loves the way the 18-year-old Grem is playing now.
“He will only get better,” Forrester said. “He is driving the ball very well and he has a very good short game. I played golf at a reasonably high level for 20 years and I will tell you this kid can play. He is absolutely a Division I golfer.”
Grem finished fifth in the MIAA tournament this spring and helped the surprising fourth-seeded Cardinals to the MIAA team championship by beating top-seeded Mount St. Joseph in a semifinal and second-seeded Gilman in the final.
Throughout the season, Grem made contributions his coach could appreciate.
“I will miss his texts in the middle of the night that said, ‘What are we going to do at practice?' ” Forrester said. “He contributed like an assistant coach. He had a wealth of knowledge. He was ahead of his time.”
This summer, Grem also sharpened his skills by competing in the Maryland Open and the Bob Riley Junior Open in Alexandra, Va.
“A lot of kids get timid or nervous in tournaments,” said Caves Valley's Sheehan. “I get the sense that he relishes that stuff. He has much better control of his game and where the ball is going. When he first came to me his swing was all over the place. It was just a matter if he could time it correctly.”
Grem thinks his timing this summer is just fine.