ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
With no seniors and only one returning letter winner on this year’s team, Hillsboro golf coach Scott O’Hare hesitates to predict the fortunes of this year’s team.
He admits this year’s squad is young, relatively small in number-and the talent is still unproven-but he sees potential.
“Our goals when we’re on the couse are to start with a good shot, find consistency and improve every day,” O’Hare said. “If we play smart, by mid-season we could be competitive. I know we have guys who have the ability to do that.”
Gone from last year’s squad are state-qualifier Phillip Thiessen and frequent medalists Grant Wiens and Chuck Bina, all to graduation, and Adam Woods, a consistent member of the Trojans’ four-man team who opted for track and field this spring.
This year’s team will be built around three golfers who did pick up varsity experience last season.
Junior Ryan Fields is the team’s only returning letter winner. He earned a medal in one tournament by finishing among the top 10. Billy Winegarner, a junior, and Randy Klassen, a sophomore, played varsity tournaments a year ago, but earned provisional letters.
To earn a full letter at HHS, a golfer must break a score of 90 at a varsity meet.
Joining those three are Tyler Creek, a sophomore, and freshmen Lance Bartel, Jordan Allen and Michael Roble.
“These guys are young and inexperienced, but I really feel we have kids who can compete,” O’Hare said. “Several have been involved with our junior golf program or have played a lot of golf as a family.”
What O’Hare likes about this group is their attitude toward the sport.
“These are guys who want to improve their game, not just play golf every day after school,” O’Hare said.
O’Hare feels the optimum number for a golf team is around 14, so full teams can be fielded both for varsity and junior varsity tournaments.
But a six-man team has some advantages, too.
“The size of our squad is OK because it gives me a chance to give more personal attention to each player,” he said.
Because of the size of the team, O’Hare will work without an assistant coach this year, which shouldn’t be a problem until varsity and junior varsity meets fall on the same day.