In order to repeat as the state’s Class C golf champion, Mitchell Tarrio went to work.

But the Augusta resident didn’t overhaul his swing mechanics, invest in a technologically advanced set of irons or go familiarize himself with half a dozen new courses. Instead, the Kents Hill School senior focused his efforts of the biggest part of the game that nobody ever talks about.

“I made a lot of adjustments mentally,” Tarrio said. “It was about being able to play without fear of hitting bad shots. That’s probably part of my game that’s grown this year and it’s really helped me. It was being able to take rounds that have gone off the rails and bring them back to being respectable scores.

Class C state champion Mitch Tarrio, of Kents Hill, watches his shot during the state championships Saturday at Natanis Golf Club in Vassalboro. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“That was something I had a hard time doing before.”

That effort paid off for Tarrio, who shot a 71 at Natanis Golf Course last month to win his second consecutive Class C individual golf title. For his efforts, Tarrio is the Central Maine Golfer of the Year.

Tarrio, who first dabbled in golf as a toddler, began taking the game seriously by the time he was 12, under the then-tutelage of his older brother, Matthew — a former member of the Cony High School golf team.

Still, he was slow to make the full-faith leap to the sport at a time when most of his spring and summer months were bloated with baseball. Perhaps not surprisingly for someone who can succeed at golf, he was eventually lured by the sport’s individual nature.

“Little League was fun for me, but I couldn’t control what other teammates were doing — which could be frustrating for me,” Tarrio said with a laugh. “Golf, at the end of the day, what you shoot is what you shoot. You’ve got complete control over what you’re doing.

“That was probably one of the main reasons I switched. I could be in control.”

Golf season isn’t quite finished yet for Tarrio, who is leaning toward Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts next year, where he hopes to continue his playing career and study business administration. Because of the renewed interest in the sport at Kents Hill, the school plans to compete in the New England prep school season — which takes place in the spring. He’ll also play in some tournaments next spring and summer, notably trying to qualify for the Maine Amateur, the New England Amateur and perhaps the United States Amateur.

A heavy tournament schedule can only prepare him for the next level, Tarrio said.

“Those are good experiences, especially for getting ready for college golf,” he said. “On college teams, there’s a lot of players that can go out there and shoot well anytime, and getting used to that atmosphere can only help you get better.”

It will take a certain mindset to do that, a mindset Tarrio has already worked on.

The days of throwing away a round over a bad shot are behind him, and keeping the ball safely in play is a priority — as it was in his state championship round, where he only took the driver out of the bag on three occasions while opting for smarter plays onto fairways.

“The confidence I got was from being able to hit shots with the same mindset every time and not let emotion control my game,” Tarrio said. “That gave me lot of confidence in all my shots, all my rounds, and helped me play consistently and very smoothly.

“When I first got into golf, I thought it was the most challenging sport I’d ever played. I know a lot of people who have the capability and the athleticism to play golf, but they don’t have the same experience as guys who have been playing for so long. It’s tough to match up with what they’ve been through and experienced, even so many failures. They can take those failures, learn from them and create from them — not just hit a bad shot, but take it and learn from it — and those are the people who do so well in golf.”

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