Joey Garvey

Riverside Brookfield High School senior Joey Garvey has flourished as a three-sport athlete through hard work and attention to the little things. As a golfer, that means a better short game to assist his best season ever.

“I feel my overall game has improved quite much,” Garvey said. “My putting was always a weak part of my game or not how I wanted it to be, but now it is very consistent. Short game is everything in golf and it helps out a lot to get my putting in a better place.”

The Bulldogs also are in a better place as they prepare for the Class 3A postseason.

On Sept. 19, they clinched their first conference title ever by winning the Metro Suburban Conference meet (342), at a wet and windy Sanctuary in New Lenox, topping host Westmont (355) and Elmwood Park (371).

Junior Josh Udelson was third (11-over-par 83), Garvey and junior Brady McCallum (87) tied for fourth, sophomore Connor Dominick (91) was sixth, and juniors Cal Milchhoefer and Ben O’Brien (95s) shared ninth.

Mike Oppegard

RBHS earned five of the 10 all-conference awards based on dual and conference meet play: Garvey, Udelson, McCallum, Dominick and junior Mike Oppegard. 

Garvey was named co-MVP.

“Yeah, it felt good. Even with a smaller conference this year, winning is still the same,” Garvey responded. 

“Winning is always a positive and even though no one really played as good as they had hoped, we still pulled through and won. It gives us a boost of confidence heading into regionals and sectionals.”

The Bulldogs now go after a top-three finish at the 3A Glenbrook North Regional Wednesday to advance to the Lyons Township Sectional Monday at Prairie Bluff in Crest Hill.

While there are just three teams in this year’s revamped MSC (before the Bulldogs join the Upstate Eight in 2024), they are consistently posting the lowest team scores that RBHS coach Jim Festle can recall in years.

Garvey has qualified individually for sectionals the past two years. Udelson joined him in 2022. Garvey started this season with a first-place 77 at the Reavis Invite, Aug. 10, and has maintained a high level of personal consistency. In nine-hole matches, Garvey has been scoring 37s and 38s.

He’s also a veteran leader for a group that returns McCallum from last year’s regional lineup and has three other seniors.

“I try to make sure everyone is friends with each other and having fun. Golf and sports in general aren’t meant to be stressful, even though it can be at times, so I try to use my experience to calm others down and just have fun and improve,” Garvey said. 

“Our younger class of players has a passion for the game and they love getting better day in and day out. There’s competition and motivation to play your best every day but, most importantly, have fun.”

Garvey is also a reserve guard for the boys basketball team, and he moved into a starting role as shortstop for the baseball team this past spring. 

While he’s in golf mode right now, he notes that he tries to dribble and shoot baskets or play catch with his brother whenever possible.

“Golf is a little different than baseball and basketball in the pace of the game and how much of a mental game it is. Staying in the weight room is a big help for all three sports, and I look forward to getting into the weight room more,” Garvey said. 

“I would say every sport has a mental aspect to it, but golf has the biggest. I’ve seen my golf game grow the biggest mentally and it’s helped a lot. Reading putts, staying calm and thinking through shots. These are all things to think about for 18 holes and 4-6 hours at a time. It’s a mental battle that basketball, especially, has helped me get better at. There are times when you are tired and hurting during a practice when you can’t quit. You’ve got to keep going. To appreciate the sun you have to experience the rain.”