Hayden Ploeger didn’t have much trouble making his decision about where he would go to college.
“Presbyterian College is the only school that made me a definite offer,” the South Aiken High School senior golfer said on Tuesday after signing his letter of intent at the school library in front of family, friends and school officials.
While Ploeger said there were other colleges that he considered or showed interest, Presbyterian had the edge because of its commitment to him. And when he visited the campus, he felt even better about the decision.
“I took my official visit and enjoyed seeing students on campus,” Ploeger said. “I met the players on the golf team and they were a great bunch of guys. I went to a class and there were only 15 students in it, so that was good. With smaller classes, the teacher gets to know you one-on-one.”
Ploeger plans to excel in the classroom as well as on the golf course. He’s interested in majoring in Chemistry and pursuing a postgraduate degree in Pharmacy, two programs he’s heard good things about at Presbyterian. He said his ultimate goal is to be an academic All-American, which isn’t a stretch for a student who had a 4.973 GPA through his junior year in high school.
“He’s a quality person, a hard worker and mature beyond his years,” said Drew Jernigan, Ploeger’s coach on the South Aiken golf team. “He’s very intelligent and will be a successful person, much less golfer.”
On the golf course, Jernigan said Ploeger’s strength’s are his short game and his intellect, which helps him manage every shot over the course of a round. Ploeger added that consistency is among his strengths, especially when it comes to hitting off the tee. Ploeger isn’t the biggest hitter, but he finds fairways and leaves himself in good shape.
“I want to become a better putter,” Ploeger said of an area he expect to improve at the college level. “That’s what makes a good player great.”
If Ploeger makes a successful transition, he should have the chance to be a starter for the Presbyterian golf team as a freshman.
He said he wants to help it make the NCAA playoffs and contribute all around during his time in college.
“I want to grow as a better person and be a member of the Presbyterian College community,” Ploeger said.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.