Messalonskee’s Jacob Moody takes a cut during an August golf match at Lakewood Golf Course in Madison. Despite having played competitive golf for less than three years, Moody earned an athletic scholarship to Division I Le Moyne College in DeWitt, New York.  Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Did Jacob Moody discover golf, or did golf discover him?

In August 2021, Moody was set to begin his sophomore year of high school as a member of the Messalonskee boys soccer team. He had been playing soccer for a decade, and although he occasionally golfed with his grandfather at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Waterville, he wasn’t passionate about it.

“I was more into basketball and up-tempo sports (growing up),” Moody said.

But a summer on the links made Moody realize he preferred hitting balls into tiny holes over booting them into large nets, even though he had never played a full 18 holes before the 2020 pandemic. One day, Moody told his stunned parents he wanted to golf for the Eagles that fall. While his folks questioned his decision — Oh, no, is this another one of those wild teenage phases? — they acquiesced to his wishes.

Moody bet on himself, and 2 1/2 years and many awards later, it’s obvious he knew what he was doing. The senior recently signed a National Letter of Intent to golf at Le Moyne College, a member of the Division I Northeast Conference based in DeWitt, New York.

“This is probably the big one that I looked at later, after all the other ones,” said Moody, whose voice exudes a quiet, I-knew-I-could-do-this confidence that never approaches cockiness.


Moody’s unlikely journey to D-I began in August of ’21 at Pine Ridge, where Messalonskee coach Gene Dumont traditionally gathers his two dozen-strong team of golfers in the morning for preseason practice before the varsity gathers at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club for an afternoon session. Moody arrived at Pine Ridge the first Monday morning of the Eagles’ second week of practice, and, well, let’s let Dumont finish the story.

“I could tell how athletic he was, and how solid he was hitting the ball,” Dumont said, “so I invited him to Belgrade that afternoon to basically try out for the varsity. And I had a very strong team that year with a lot of seniors. And he just never went back to the junior varsity.”

Moody usually was the Eagles’ No. 5 or 6 golfer as a sophomore, but his talent was evident. He qualified for the Class A state championships and finished 32nd out of 66 golfers. One moment in particular that season gave Moody a confidence boost. 

As the No. 5 golfer, Moody was among the last to tee off, which meant almost everyone else was watching as he finished his round. On the last hole, Moody’s shot from the green landed a mere 2 feet from the hole as teammates and rivals looked on in amazement. Moody tapped the ball into the hole for a birdie.  

“That was pretty cool because all the people I was looking up to at that point were watching me, and that was almost a little inspiring, to see that they were supporting me,” Moody said. “And I guess that gave me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Moody started his junior year at No. 1 and he never looked back: All-state in 2022 and ’23. Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference champion in ’23. Second place at the ’23 Class A championships. 


Moody also took his game outside the high school ranks and was Maine New England PGA Junior Tour Player of the Year in ’23 and runner-up at Waterville CC Club Championship.

While it appears Moody simply waltzed on to the course and dominated people with far more experience, he refused to rely solely upon his athletic ability. Moody — who also plays basketball and tennis at Messalonskee — spent the last couple summers golfing day in and day out, whether it was in rain, shine or fog.

“I tried to play in all the elements, because you get to experience that in tournaments, and a lot of people don’t prepare for that stuff,” said Moody, who estimated that he spent only 10 days away from the courses during the summer.

And when it got too cold to golf in the winter, he set up a net in his parents’ garage to practice his swing.

While you might expect a golf neophyte to be inconsistent, Moody was anything but, according to Dumont, who keeps track of all his golfers’ scores, be it practice, regular season or postseason. 

“His range of scores for about 50 rounds is like from minus-2 to plus-3,” Dumont said from his winter residence in Florida. “He’s just a very consistent player. I knew what I was going to get from Jacob. Every single day, I knew I was going to get a near-par round, which is pretty remarkable.”


Le Moyne, which is about a tee shot from Syracuse, is almost as new to D-I as Moody is to golf. The Dolphins moved up from the D-II Northeast-10 Conference in 2022. So perhaps it’s fitting that golfer and school embark on a new adventure together.

“I think he would have gotten additional college offers had he been playing for a longer period of time,” said Dumont, who noted that many D-I schools start tracking golf prospects when they’re in grade school. “So he was at a disadvantage coming into that game late, not having a lot of history. But his consistency, especially his senior year, I think, is probably what led him to getting the D-I invite.”

Moody says he’s not sure what he will major in, but “I think that it’ll be something I excel in,” he said, again with that cool confidence.

And if he takes to his major as quickly as he took up golf, chances are he will, in the words of Dumont, be “on a flight going straight up.”

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