Hays High's Tradgon McCrae knows there will be times next year when he's going to miss being a multi-sport athlete.
But McCrae also can't wait to see what happens with his golf game once he focuses exclusively on the sport.
He will get that chance next year at Hutchinson Community College, signing to play golf for the Blue Dragons.
"I sure hope it brings out the best in me, because normally I play golf three, four months out of the year, but now I can play it full-year round," McCrae said on Monday after his signing ceremony in the Hays High cafeteria. "The scores should be lower, I hope. I think I should get better."
McCrae, also a standout basketball and soccer player for the Indians, believes he has the most potential in golf.
"I'll miss (the other sports), for sure," said McCrae, who also played baseball last year as a junior. "During times it will be rough, because I don't get to play basketball in front of my friends anymore. I don't get to play soccer, except to maybe just go kick the ball around with friends some time. I'll miss it a lot, but if I play well in golf, it will make me forget about that a little bit more."
One tournament into his senior season, McCrae's decorated high school career already includes 11 tournament titles. He's medaled in 27 of 31 tournaments as an Indian.
A strength for McCrae is his driving distance, but Hays High golf coach Mark Watts said another one of his best attributes is his poise on the course.
"If he has a bad hole, he doesn't let it get to him," Watts said. "He may come back and birdie a couple holes after that."
Watts is also impressed with McCrae's all-around athleticism that also helped him earn All-Western Athletic Conference honors and All-State recognition in basketball and soccer.
"He's just a great athlete," Watts said. "... He's got great hand-eye coordination. Just watching him play and watching things he can do, it's pretty incredible."
McCrae had a banner season on the course as a junior, winning six tournament titles and finishing fourth in the Class 4A tournament to help the Indians take second as a team. He also placed fifth at state as a freshman when the Indians were Class 4A state champions.
The WAC Player of the Year last season, McCrae said his strong junior year was enough to convince him to commit to playing golf in college.
"Freshman, sophomore, junior year, it was pretty much a toss up," McCrae said of which sport to try to play in college. "I had a really good junior year for golf and that kind of set my focus on golf for college."
McCrae, who had a 73.7 scoring average as a junior, said he was initially leaning toward Dodge City Community College before becoming sold on coach Chris Young's program at Hutch.
"I was pretty set on Dodge. One of the Hutch guys that's going to go there next year — I play with him a lot during the summer — he told me to come up and play with the guys, just to kind of give them a chance," McCrae said. "They were fun, cool. The coach was cool. I really liked it and it felt like home to me."
Watts said McCrae will have an opportunity to use his time in Hutchinson as a possible stepping stone to an NCAA Division I program.
"With him being able to concentrate just on golf at the junior college level, you're going to get looked at by a lot of schools," Watts said. "Where ever they go, Division I schools are looking at you. That's a great step if you just want to do that for a year or two years (at a junior college) and then move on.
"The sky's the limit with what's going to happen for him the next couple years," he added.
McCrae said it was a relief to have his college plans finalized.
"I had so much stress on me, and right now when I signed the papers and got this over with, it just fees like everything just got lifted off my shoulders," McCrae said. "Now I can just focus on playing golf and finishing my senior year out and having fun, ultimately."
McCrae carded a 73 in the Indians' first tournament of the season in McPherson last week, placing sixth. He said he his encouraged by how he is playing but still has room for improvement.
"I need to work on my driving, for sure, finding fairways," McCrae said. "If you can't find a fairway and you're under a tree, you can't really shoot that well, making bogeys the whole time. If I find the fairway off my tee shot and give myself birdie chances, I should be doing a lot better."