SULLIVAN — Warren Harden had never had a single golf lesson when he began his sophomore year. Two years later, few high school golfers in Maine can match his accomplishments.
Harden, now a senior at Sumner Memorial High School, was named Class C Player of the Year earlier this month after producing one of the finest seasons any Sumner golfer has produced in ages. The honor came as he finished at or near the top of every competition in which he competed and led the Tigers to the Downeast Athletic Conference championship.
Looking to make a last-minute entrance into the fall sports scene two years ago, Harden, now a senior at Sumner Memorial High School, joined the school’s golf team with only a few matches remaining in the season. The only time he had ever swung a golf club was as a little boy in the backyard with his grandmother, but Harden saw the chance to play with his classmates as a fun opportunity.
“The only reason I did [it] was because my friends were doing it, and I thought it would be fun just to do it with them,” Harden wrote in essay regarding his experience with the golf team. “I never saw myself having a future in it.”
Almost immediately, that intuition was proven wrong. In his very first match, he shot a team-best score of 49 — not bad for a newcomer with no experience in this sport. Yet this was only the beginning; by the end of his junior year, he had established himself as the team’s No. 1 golfer and formed a strong tandem with teammate Kyle Brooks.
Entering the 2019 season without Brooks, who graduated in June, Harden didn’t quite know what to expect. Yet Harden took his game up a notch, and with the rise of Simon Torrey, who first recruited him to join the golf team, Sumner won nearly every match.
“I was nervous about what would [become] of the team with us losing one of our most valuable players., but Simon stepped up as my No. 2,” Harden said. “We were considered the lowest-scoring duo for golf in Downeast.”
Harden’s strong senior campaign included eight medalist finishes, a first-place finish in the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C championships, the school’s nine-hole record score of 38 and a ninth-place finish in Saturday’s Class C individual championships at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.
There was one moment Saturday that was particularly special. All throughout the day, Harden’s family had been waiting to watch him at the par-4 No. 9 hole. When Harden finally got there, he delivered a fantastic tee shot that nearly made the green and followed it with a well-placed chip for an impressive eagle.
“His chip was perfect,” Sumner coach Joe Haroutunian said. “It was great timing as it was the only shot of his they had witnessed all day.”
Most impressive to Haroutunian is what Harden was able to accomplish in just over two seasons of golf. He recalled what a fellow Class C coach said of Harden in a match earlier this year: “He makes it look easy.”
“Warren is the most accomplished golfer in my time coaching at the school. He really is quite a natural,” Haroutunian said. “He should inspire other kids to give golf a try.”