Howard Payne Yellow Jackets senior golfer Reed Shelley hopes to hone his game this winter in order to capture his first golf tournament championship next spring.

Shelley and his teammates wrapped up fall play at the Abilene Intercollegiate Tournament at Diamondback Golf Course with the team finishing eighth overall while Shelley tallied a season high 33rd place, which was a season high.

“I definitely got better as the season wore on and a lot of that was just being better mentally, playing smarter and making good decisions. In golf, that is what it boils down to. The more consistently I can do that the better I play,” Shelley said.

While other sports hold tournaments in high regard, Shelley said that is not the case with golf. Although past performance will factor in the seeding of the conference tournament, it has little bearing and he treated much of fall season similar to an exhibition game. Before succeeding at Diamondback, Shelley had struggled with a 60th-place finish in the season opener at McMurry University, then a tie for 49th-place at the Rockwind Links Intercollegiate Tournament in Hobbs, N.M.

Shelley attributes his shortfalls to mental weakness and not having confidence in himself when following through after visualizing a difficult shot. While he believes he can combat some of that by staying positive throughout the tournament, he also believes steady practice through the winter breaks allows him to put himself in tricky situations and use deliberate, decisive shots to get him out of those situations. For Shelley, repetition is key.

“It’s nice being in Texas where it’s not super cold all of the time,” Shelley said. “Even when I go home, I have places I can practice indoors if it’s too bad. With my game overall, I need to keep getting better at my middle game. That is the biggest thing for me. A lot of times, if I have any doubt or feeling I can’t pull off a shot that I’m visualizing.”

Above all, Shelley hopes to capture a tournament title for himself and his team. Although a season-high 33 rd-place finish seems far from the mark, Shelley says that is not so. With the right amount of practice and the right mental attitude, he believes he can capture his first tournament title of his college career and maybe be an example to younger players with similar struggles.

“I know I’m a really good player, for me it’s just showing that in tournaments,” Shelley said. “For me to bring my play from practice to tournaments is just being better mentally … I know I’m ready and if I keep doing the stuff I’ve been practicing it’s going to happen. I am just looking forward to that.”