Brandon Vance won the Pioneer Athletic Conference golf championship and was named The Mercury's All-Area Player of the Year during his junior season. But he wasn't all that happy with how the year ended when Methacton failed in its bid for a third straight PAC-10 team title and he narrowly missed out on a spot in the PIAA Tournament.
So he went back to work over the winter, played in a world championship tournament during the summer, and returned for his senior year with the Warriors this past fall with the lofty goals of making it to the PIAA Tournament this time around and helping his team do the same.
As a result of that determination and hard work, he matched the previous season's major accomplishments by earning a second straight PAC-10 individual championship and a return trip to the Eastern Regional. But he and his team were far from finished.
This time Vance qualified for the PIAA-AAA Tournament, where he earned a fifth-place medal, and the Warriors finished as the state runner-up after winning their first-ever District 1 title. Those performances, which topped off an outstanding four-year run for Vance and the team, also make him the hands down and repeat choice as All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year.
"Last year, the team didn't end up too well at the end,' Vance said in reference to the Warriors' disappointing PAC-10 Final Four semifinal loss. "I didn't do well. I did a lot of hard work during the winter. The team did too. I was looking to win states, of course, for both of them this year. But we definitely did very, very well. I was happy with how we ended up.'
During his offseason work, Vance concentrated on getting more out of his shots from the tee.
"Just definitely distance,' he said. "I was working a lot over the winter, just getting more yardage, and it was working out to my advantage.'
The results were apparent before Vance even returned to school. He competed in the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championships during the summer at the historic Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina and placed third out of 135 competitors from all over the world.
That gave him a boost of confidence heading into his final scholastic season.
"It definitely did,' he said. "It was before tryouts even started for the school season. It definitely puts good thoughts in your head ... how all the work over the winter paid off.'
After that, Vance carded a 75 at Gilbertsville to win the PAC-10 title by two strokes, led the way with a score of 36 over nine holes in a team semifinal win over defending champion Spring-Ford, and shot another 36 as the Warriors regained the title with a one-stroke win over Owen J. Roberts.
He followed that up with a tie for eighth place at the District 1-AAA Tournament at Turtle Creek with a two-day, one-over par total of 145 and shot a two-under 70 to lead the team to its first-ever championship. That qualified him for the Eastern Regional at Golden Oaks, where he had missed moving on to the state finals by just one stroke the year before. This time he shot a par 72 to tie for sixth place — eight strokes better than the year before — and earned a spot at the PIAA-AAA Tournament. He won a medal there by finishing in a four-way tie for fifth place with a two-day total of 152 at the challenging Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York and also shot a 77 as Methacton finished second to Upper St. Clair in the team competition.
Vance wound up with the best average of his four-year career with a 36.4 over nine holes. He also finished with a 38-4 regular season mark as part of the Warrior team and a 6-1 record in PAC-10 Final Four play with three championships.
And in addition to improving his distance from the tee, he also continued to make strides in his all-important mental approach to the game.
"Just a lot of mental things,' Vance added. "I remember last year I was saying it definitely helped to forget your bad holes. This year I didn't think about anything negative. You don't want to regret anything your senior year.'
His toughest competition this season came from freshman brother Kyle Vance, who finished two strokes back at the PAC-10 Tournament, won the district title, tied his older brother's score at the Eastern Regional, and finished just short of a medal with a tie for 12th place at states.
"We always have a friendly competition, and with my older brother (2011 All-Area Player of the Year Ryan Vance),' said Brandon Vance. "You definitely think about what they might shoot. You don't want to be at the dinner table hearing about how he did better than you.'
All along the way, Brandon Vance remained humble and kept his concentration on the course despite a trying situation at home, according to Methacton head coach Kevin Flanagan.
"I really don't know where to begin,' said Flanagan. "From the time he was a freshman, the teams he has been a part of have only lost three regular season PAC-10 matches. I think Brandon's best quality is his humility. I have never seen or heard him talk about himself. As a parent, I can only hope that my own children grow up with the same respect and humility that Brandon has.
"He has had a pretty trying year personally. His father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that he is currently battling. I don't know many adolescents that would be able to concentrate on their daily schedule, let alone on the golf course — where concentration is 100-percent of the game — under the stresses he was under. The funny thing is, neither Brandon nor Kyle would have ever eluded that there was any stress in their lives. They come to the course every day with a smile on their face and leave the same way. Sometimes he would leave practice and play another nine holes. He just has that type of personality, and I can't say enough about him.
"I have formed a lasting relationship with Brandon, one that is based on appreciation for him as a person first and golfer second. That is a tribute not only to him, but his parents (Jeff and Sue Vance) as well. Brandon is a great golfer. His legacy at Methacton is already etched. But it is Brandon the person that will be the lasting memory for me as his coach.'
Vance is still undecided about next year. But one way or another, there is bound to be plenty of golf in his future.
"I still have to make the commitment,' he said. "It's a big decision. You have to weigh the decision of not making it in golf (as a career). I'm going to major in accounting and economics. I figure that's a good fallback to have.'