Former Tiger Pannebaker roaring on
OAKLAND MILLS – For the last two years, Jeremy Pannebaker has dominated the Tri-Valley League, earning back-to-back MVP awards.
He finished the 2013-14 season with a scoring average of 76.63, almost five strokes better than Jeremiah Heath of Newport.
Now the recently-graduated East Juniata Tiger is setting his sights on golfers of all ages throughout Pennsylvania.
Pannebaker competes in various NCPGA junior golf tournaments and has had success thoughout the summer in those events.
“They’re just fun to play,” Pannebaker said. “I get to play with other kids my age. You get to see good competition. I like the way they’re run. It’s just a lot of fun.”
He recently won his division of the group’s fifth tournament of the season on Aug. 4 at Belles Springs Golf Club, posting 8-over 80, including a 37 on the opening nine.
“It was nice,” Pannebaker said. “Shooting an 80, I would like to play better, but obviously, it was enough.”
A few weeks later, he turned in a fifth place finish in a Harrisburg Area Junior Golf Association tournament, firing a round of 76.
“I felt better about them,” Pannebaker said. “I felt like there were better players down there in the Harrisburg tournaments. I’ve had some better finishes down there. I think a fifth place finish in Harrisburg made me feel better than say a third place (somewhere else).”
He also had a great showing in his first foray into his home club, Lost Creek’s Club Championship, a four-round, two weekend event that features some of the club’s best players.
Pannebaker was the second younger player to compete, something which didn’t seem to phase him.
He shot rounds of 76, 74, 83, and a closing 73, which placed him fourth in the Men’s gross division.
“It was a challenge. I go out and I play my own game,” Pannebaker said. “I don’t get too caught up in the other guys. I go out there and play my own game. I know I have the capability to shoot a good score.”
Among those that he topped on the leaderboard was his former high school coach, Mike Zendt.
Pannebaker started his venture into golf like most kids do, playing a par-3 course with his father.
“I played with my dad,” Pannebaker said. “He used to take me out to the Pine Grove par-3, just playing there when I was little got me hooked. I got to high school and decided I would give it a shot and I just stuck with it.”
Playing those early days as a kid gave him a great foundation for when started playing for Zendt.
“From the very beginning, he’s had a decent swing,” Zendt said. “It has just stedily improved over the years. Freshman, sophomore year, he had a bit of a slice that he would hit. From his sophomore year into his junior year, he had a hook. Senior year, he really straightened that out and really played solid golf for me.”
Pannebaker played four years of basketball at East Juniata and was a role player on the school’s only TVL Championship team in its 60-plus year history that went unbeaten (21-0) in the regular season.
He played football as a younger kid before transitioning to golf and he also played varsity baseball for three seasons along with four years of golf and basketball.
The next step for Pannebaker is college, where he will tee it up at Bridgewater College.
“He’s headed to Bridgewater College and I think that says a lot about his game that he can stick with guys,” Zendt said. “Maybe the one weakness he may have when he heads to college is his distance. He doesn’t hit it quite as far as some guys, but he is very accurate and he is very good at getting up and down around the greens.”
Pannebaker is focused on his immediate future at Bridgewater and doesn’t have concrete plans after that.
“I’m planning this fall to attend Bridgewater College in Virginia to play there.” Pannebaker said. “Hopefully, I’ll play my four years there and see where I go from there. When I’m done there I’ll get a job and hopefully play a little on the side.”
“He’s a hard worker.” Zendt said. “He’s got the potential and I think ultimately he would (eventually) like to play D-1. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know, but he’s such a hard worker that anything is possible for Jeremy.”