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On & Off the Course

June 7, 2008

On & Off the Course: A mother’s perspective

TERRE HAUTE — This has been the week for high school boys’ sectionals and regionals for the schools in the Tribune Star readership area in Indiana. My son Phillip, who is a senior on Terre Haute South’s golf team, has experienced the highs and lows of these tournaments. Last year he was devastated when his team didn’t advance to the regionals and individually he missed moving on by one stroke. His ultimate goal this year was to get back to the state tournament, because he considers the team of 2006 and their second place finish at the state the highlight of his life so far. That team had Travis Smith, Mark Metheny, Conner Clinkenbeard, Ryan Shelly, and Phillip on it. Travis made that team really strong because he was so consistent and could shoot low scores. When two or three of the other four players also came through with good rounds, they usually won or placed very well in tournaments.

This year South’s team is very deep. If they could play matches as 10-man teams instead of five, they could beat almost anybody in the state because they have so many players that can shoot in the 70’s. But high school golf matches aren’t played that way, so Coach Chris Cassell has had the unenviable position of choosing only five players each weekend, which is a great luxury, but tough to do. South has remained undefeated in dual matches and has placed no worse than 5th in multi-team matches, thanks to many players coming through with good scores, particularly junior Zach Hoskings and freshman Thomas Goss. Freshman Jackson Jarvis came through with 78’s that were clutch at both the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament and at sectionals. Ian White, a senior, has also come through a couple of times to lead the team, including their own Braves Invitational. I’m grateful that Coach Cassell hung in there with Phillip on the roster, even though he had some rounds that were not up to his potential. And believe me, they were hard to watch at times. The weirdest match was the Brownsburg Invitational at West Chase Golf Course. It was an extremely windy day, and most of the boys on the course were struggling with course management, but that wasn’t Phillip’s problem. He hit 16 greens in regulation that day. His drives were great, and usually right down the middle. His problem was that he was hitting greens, but not very close to the pins, so he had ten 3-putts, nine of them on consecutive holes! It was tortuous to watch! After about the fourth 3-putt, we kept thinking he had to 2-putt this next hole. The problem was that the greens were big and slow, so it took a mighty whack to get that first putt close, and when he didn’t, he’d miss. He ended up shooting an 83, with 45 putts. He has since added some lead tape to his putter, and has been putting great since then. Other kinks have been worked out this season, and Cassell’s faith in Phillip paid off in a couple of the big tournaments, the MIC Championship and the regional at Country Oaks.

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