Although Washington Township is the largest municipality in Gloucester County, head boys golf coach Shane Snyder likes to say the town talks like a small one, at least in the world of golf.
So as Snyder prepared for his 10th season in charge of the Minutemen last school year, he anxiously awaited the arrival of then-freshman Justin Forman, a name he had heard of often from younger golfers in the program who had seen Forman play.
“It might be a big town, but it’s small in a golf sense, so a couple of the younger kids on the teams the year or two before Justin got to high school had seen him play in tournaments or just hitting at the range, and were sure to tell me that he was pretty good and I should be excited about him coming up,” Snyder said.
“I finally got to meet him at an eighth grade orientation for the first time and then once he got on the course, he’s immediately done well as a golfer and as a teammate.”
During Forman’s freshman season, he played to the tune of a 43.3 nine-hole average, then dropped to 39.4 this past year as a sophomore and as a leader on the course despite his young age.
For that, Forman is South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021-’22 Boys Golfer of the Year.
Forman said he first got to playing golf at age 5, with his dad. He dabbled with other sports during childhood – track, baseball, soccer – but golf continued to be his focus as he got older. Following his first season of high-school play during his freshman year, Forman put in more work than perhaps ever before in hopes of building off his first season with the Minutemen.
“I put a lot more practice in this past offseason, particularly with my short game, but I think the main thing for me was working on the mental side of golf,” Forman said. “Last year, I was more worried about my score, but this year I was more focused on hitting good shots and then letting it fall into place from there.”
It worked: Forman’s nine-hole average took the aforementioned dramatic drop by season’s end. The renewed focus on the course, he said, was something he implemented with the goal of better appreciating each individual shot and lessening the number of putts he takes each match, while also better preparing himself for end-of-season meets.
This season, the sophomore’s game allowed him to score 74’s at both the sectional meet and the Tournament of Champions, something that really impressed his coach.
“What he did this year was really impressive,” Snyder said. “He was great last year for us, but at times it seemed like he put too much pressure on himself. This year, he put it all together at the two biggest tournaments of the season, shooting a 74 and a 74 at matches where the conditions weren’t ideal at all with how windy it was.”
Looking ahead to the next two years of Forman’s career, the Minutemen head coach said he’s eager to see what the upcoming junior and his teammates are able to accomplish before Forman leaves the high school, especially since Forman’s passion for the sport has started to rub off on his teammates.
To prepare for next season, Forman is already filling his summer schedule with weekly tournaments, and is eager to improve his individual scores at sectionals and the Tournament of Champions. He also wants to make a good impression during the team’s first season in the Tri-County Conference next spring.
“I have tournaments for the Philly PGA and AJGA throughout the summer to keep me active this summer,” Forman said. “But moving forward, I’m looking forward to improving in the Gloucester County Tournament and doing well in the Tri-County Tournament during our first year in there.
“I also want to better myself in the postseason meets; just overall, I still want to do a lot better.”