Aaron Sorkin has no trouble breaking down rounds of golf moments after he steps off the final green.
Like many avid golfers, Sorkin can dissect each shot and talk about what went right, or wrong, on each hole. And, perhaps like most players striving for greatness, Sorkin doesn’t waste much time getting back to work to make his game better.
The Westminster High School junior put together a solid 2019 fall season en route to earning Times Player of the Year honors. Sorkin led Carroll County in nine-hole scoring average (37.3), won the county tournament title, and posted a top-five finish at the Class 4A-3A state tourney.
Nice accomplishments to a point, Sorkin said.
“I feel like I could have done better. There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “It wasn’t my best season. I think I had a little bit better season last year. This year was a rough year for me, a little out of the ordinary. I don’t usually have these rough years, but I was posting some really high scores over the summer.”
Those words might sound as if they’re coming from a negative place, but Sorkin just wants to improve every chance he gets.
He flirted with the county scoring average lead all season before finishing low enough to come put on top. Sorkin shot 79, 8-over par, at the 4A-3A District 1 tournament to finish sixth and help the Owls qualify for the state tourney in back-to-back seasons.
After losing the county title last year in a playoff, Sorkin got into another playoff this time around and didn’t let it slip away. He shot 79 again, then held off Brian Inglis of rival Winters Mill through two extra holes to take the crown.
Sorkin said he got a new set of clubs back in May but struggled with his swing throughout the summer, despite competing in several prestigious tournaments and posting low scores.
“I did have some ups and downs,” he said. “I had high expectations coming into high school [season]. I feel like I’m under a little bit more pressure ... just to represent the school well.”
Sorkin had the lead at states after one day with a 70, and finished tied for fifth at 147 (he fired a 77 on the second day). Last year, he lost the state championship in a playoff, and joked afterward the biggest thing he needed to work on for 2019 was winning one.
“Although I didn’t shoot well [at counties] .. it felt good winning the playoff,” Sorkin said. “Third time’s a charm.”
One of those summertime tests came at Pinehurst in late July, when Sorkin earned a nomination to play in the U.S. Kids Golf World Teen Championship. One of his three rounds came in at 70 (2-under), but another had him finishing in the mid-80s.
The grueling, three-day event gave Sorkin a chance to test his skills on an international level. When he returned home, Sorkin did what he does after every golf experience — the 16-year-old retreated to his family’s garage and honed his shots with his hitting net and golf video simulator.
“I practice every day, no exceptions,” Sorkin said. “I try to practice with lots of clubs. I’m starting to get into other stuff like weights. Just making my whole overall game better.”
The regimen isn’t lost on Owls coach Jim Carpenter, who watched his top player come out on top after struggling with the mental and physical aspect of his game.
Westminster went 11-2 during the regular season and 5-1 in Carroll County Athletic League play, finishing second to Winters Mill in the standings. The Owls shot 332 at the county tournament, at Links at Gettysburg, to the Falcons’ 331.
Golf comes naturally to Sorkin, Carpenter said, but the key to his success this fall hinged on staying focused and eliminating any noise from the outside.
“I feel like he was trying not to make mistakes in the beginning,” Carpenter said. “Finally we had a talk, had some private time, and he worked on trying to just be himself. He learned at the end to be himself, and he just came around. He sort of just let go. I see him really doing things in the future.”