McALESTER — Sports are often associated with figurative injuries. A loss can be “heartbreaking,” for example, or “gut-wrenching.”
Golf was quite literally “teeth-ripping” at one point for McAlester senior Dakota Snell, and even that couldn’t scare him away.
“When I was 10, I got hit with a golf ball in the mouth,” Snell said.
“When it hit me, it took my teeth and ripped them out. It just pretty much filleted the inside the mouth. It was pretty gruesome. Most people ask why in the world I would still play golf after that, but for some reason I kept doing it. I couldn’t stay away.”
A Frink-Chambers student through eighth grade, Snell grew up golfing with his grandfather Jon Amundson. They’d golf together at Arrowhead State Park Golf Course in Canadian, and Snell started golfing competitively as a freshman at Savanna.
“I was playing baseball, and they were short a person and (the golf coach) asked me to play in one tournament,” Snell said. “I ended up playing the rest of the season, so I went between baseball and golf and juggled those two.”
Snell transferred to McAlester High School for his 10th-grade year and immediately went back to golf. He played on the JV team as a sophomore — the last time the Buffs’ varsity qualified for State as a team — then moved up to varsity as junior.
“Going to my first varsity tournament was a great accomplishment,” Snell said.
“Ardmore, 36-hole tournament, Lakeview and Dornick (Hills). Not my best performance, but it was fun. I had a great time.”
Snell’s remained on varsity this season.
“I would love for all of us to go as a team to State,” Snell said. “I would love to see that for my senior year, and do very well and potentially have our games on and place. That would be a very wonderful goal to reach.”