By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Tim Johnson isn’t the first Concord High School golfer to attend Bethel College in Mishawaka and if Pilot coach Christopher Hess has his way he will not be the last.
Johnson signed a national letter of intent to continue his education and golf careers at the Mishawaka school last Thursday.
“I like the small college atmosphere and the fact Bethel is a Christian school,” Johnson said. “A Christian school was very important to me.”
Johnson’s character was an important issue to Hess.
“The people who Tim gave as references all spoke highly of him” the coach said. “Golf scores are important, but character is more so. If you find a good person the scores will take care of themselves.”
Johnson joins a list of Concord alumni that have played golf at Bethel that includes Brant Fowler, Eric Lebold, Matt Dutton, Gavin Wilkinson, Jon Bonfiglio and Greg Lebold.
“There is a lot of Concord tradition at Bethel,” Johnson said. “I’m going to humbly try and carry on that tradition. Coach Larry Bilger (Concord) started the tradition and I’m very honored to have the chance to keep it going.”
“We have gotten a lot of very good golfers from this school (Concord),” Hess said.
Hess has been the Bethel golf coach since the 1999-2000 season. Under his direction the Pilots had won 22 tournaments, including a first ever Mid-Central Conference (now Crossroads League) title in 2006. Bethel had made four trips to the NAIA National Tournament and he has coached 12 NCCAA All-Americans, 10 NAIA Academic All-Americans, and 25 NCCAA Academic All-Americans.
Johnson averaged 40.02 strokes per nine holes last season for Concord. He carded a 38-40—78 in the sectional at Black Squirrel Golf Club in Goshen as the Minutemen placed fifth in the team standings. Johnson’s 78 tied him with Alec Dutkowski of Elkhart Christian Academy for the third-and-final regional qualifying spot. Dutkowski earned the spot by winning a playoff.
“Tim has tons of potential. His game has not peeked yet,” Concord co-coach Greg Martin said. “His future is bright.”
Johnson played in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot for the Minutemen a year ago.
“I’ll probably be No. 1 this season,” he said.
Johnson knows he will have to make improvements in his game to be ready to play in college.
“One thing I definitely need to work on is my distance off the tee,” he said. “I’m not a very big guy, but I do need to get longer off the tee. A number of the Bethel golfers work out with weights and I’m willing to give it a try if it helps my ball striking ability.”
Johnson feels the Concord program has been good preparation for the next level.
“We see a lot of quality competition in the NLC,” he said. “It has been a huge help. It has given me more confidence in myself and in my ability to compete.”
Now that his college selection has been made Johnson can focus on his senior season.
“Now that the decision is out of the way I can concentrate on golf this spring. One of my goals was to get the decision out of the way so I could focus on the season,” he said. “This season is going to be different as I will be the only senior. It’s going to be up to me to carry the lead.
“My individual goal is to finish among the top five players in the NLC.”
Johnson plans to study business administration at Bethel with a minor in marketing or management.
Tim is the son of Tim and Deadra Johnson. He has a brother Adam Dickinson who lives in Colorado.