Over the years, the golf talent that has been present in Scioto County has been as impressive as any that one will find across the landscape.
In 2017, that point is no different as each of the golf programs inside the county lines brings with it a group of young, talented players that are attentive, competitive, and willing to improve, as seen by the progression that has come about over the last several weeks.
For any program, balance is key to any roster.
And there’s no roster that has that balance down more than the Panthers of Clay, who have put all six of their players between scorecards of 46 to 55. That balance, depth, and experience has Clay as the top contender to dethrone Eastern and Western from the top two positions at the SOC I ladder.
“They’ve all been pretty consistent from a scoring standpoint,” Keaton said. “I’ve got three seniors and three juniors, and the experience that each of them have has been huge for us as we have gone forward into the season. They can be hard on themselves sometimes, but overall, they all have a good time out on the golf course and they play well.”
That balance, however, has not been a new feature in Clay’s lineup. All six guys in the lineup, including Caleb Cline, Hunter Armstrong, Tyler Phillips, Tyler Hobbs, Teddy McCall, and Chase Hudson, have put together strokes under 55 in 2017. This was best evidenced when each member of the team shot between a 46 to a 54 en route to taking home a match victory behind a score of 192 at Little Scioto on Aug. 9.
“We’re consistently lowering our scores,” Keaton said. “Every one of the guys are shooting in the mid-50s or lower. Caleb, Hunter, and Tyler have stepped up big time for us this year. They are all capable of scores in the low 40s. Tyler Phillips is as well.”
Experienced hands are always a luxury to have for any competitive unit.
And as far as the Notre Dame Titans are concerned, there’s plenty of that depth available at its disposal as well.
In all, Spencer Wilcox, Tyler Speas, Jared Redoutey, Connor Madden, and Kyle McGraw have teamed together to form a strong quintet for Notre Dame and head coach Tyler Noel.
“I like how consistent and competitive they all are,” Noel said. “We need to work on our putting game, but that put of the game comes with time and playing a little more. I can definitely see 200 as a realistic score by the end of the season.”
Wilcox and Speas, a pair of seniors, have led the way all season for the Titans, with the pair shooting between 49 to 53 from a stroke standpoint. Redoutey has a low stroke of 49 for the Notre Dame, while McGraw and Madden are regularly shooting in the 60s for the Titans.
“The guys practice every day,” Noel said. “Everyone comes to practice all the time and is on the putting greens or the driving range.”
Noel’s Titans, who shot a 212 against Portsmouth last Tuesday, have the potential to shoot a score of under 200, according to the former Notre Dame alum.
“Honestly, we just need to work on our putting,” Noel said. “We can get to 190, 195 if we can keep the three-putting out of the game. That’s the problem right now. They hit it on the greens in regulation, it’s just the three-putting that is hurting us right now.”
It’s always tough to compete when a program is low on numbers.
However, one isn’t going to find any excuses that come out of Jack Whitley’s mouth. After starting the season with only three golfers — William Sturgill, Katy Pertuset, and Aiden Dongus — Portsmouth has collected a key addition from Jack Workman to form a scoring unit in 2017.
And so far, things have worked out pretty well for the Trojans.
Take Portsmouth’s recent OVC dual match against Ironton, for example. The Trojans posted a strong score of 192 against the Fighting Tigers, two days after scoring a solid 196 against Notre Dame, en route to winning both matches.
Much of that strength has come on the back of Sturgill, who has been the team’s top golfer throughout the duration of the year. Sturgill had started the year in the mid-40s through nine holes — an impressive mark for any golfer of Sturgill’s age — but has really shown off his improvement over the last two matches of note, where a 39 (Notre Dame) and a 37 (Ironton) have been his overall scorecards.
“We’ve got high expectations for William, and William has high expectations for himself,” Whitley said. “He’s been working hard. When he plays in the matches, you can see that he’s been out (on the golf course).”
Behind Sturgill, Pertuset has also been steady throughout the course of the year. In fact, Pertuset has made her way from the mid-50s to the high 40s, as evidenced by the 46 that she shot against Ironton. Dongus and Workman have also improved, with the pair putting together a 52 and a 55 against Notre Dame and scores of 53 and 57 against Ironton.
“Katy has shown improvement; we just need to get her a little bit more consistent,” Whitley said. “Aiden is getting adjusted to playing on a high school team and the competition that goes with it. He’ll hit good shots and bad shots, but he’s working hard. As for Jack, he’s working at the game still, but he is also putting in the work to improve. All four players are working hard, and I’m very pleased so far with all of them.”
But while Whitley is pleased with his players, he’s not going to let numbers crunch the potential of this group — especially considering the fact that all four individuals return next year.
“With only four players, it makes it a little more challenging for us,” Whitley said. “But if you have four players that are decent golfers, you can have a very successful season.”
Even as the years have gone by, South Webster has always found a way to prove itself as a respectable golf force.
Much of that credit deserves to go to Josh Horner, who has proven to get the best out of his student-athletes time and time again. However, credit also deserves to be shared within the six players that are taking part in the Jeeps’ golf program in 2017. Four first-time golfers, including Andrew Smith, Levi Murphy, Timmy Melvin, and Josh Hammond, join third-year mainstays in Jacob Witter and Dylan Bond to make up a solid six-man unit for Horner’s club.
“We are pretty young and inexperienced, but in that youth, there’s also a good group of kids who are willing to learn and take the game seriously,” Horner said. “You can really tell that they want to get better and play. After practice, when I’m done with them, they’re playing alongside each other and are trying to get as much games in as they can. They’ve all got that bug to get better.”
Witter, Bond, and Smith have each proven to be consistent hands for the Jeeps, with Witter and Bond collecting scores in the low 50s and Smith adding on a tally in the mid-50s despite only being in the sport of golf for a year. The No. 4 slot has been a battle between Hammond, Melvin, and Murphy, with Hammond holding the slight edge on the scoresheet for a team that shot a 212 during a dual-match against Notre Dame on Aug. 17.
“It’s going in the right direction,” Horner said. “They all have a great drive to succeed and want to improve their games for the team and for themselves, as well. It’s a good group of kids who all get along with each other quite well. I can’t ask for much more.”
And with the scores going down, that’s all that Horner can truly ask for.
“I am pretty pleased that the scores are coming down,” Horner said. “Things are getting better.”
As with Portsmouth’s and South Webster’s golf programs, Jud White’s Valley program is shorthanded, but competitive thanks to the leadership of Logan Bloomfield, Andy Kuhn, and John Merritt.
For White’s program, Bloomfield, who was an All-SOC honoree in 2016, will be the leader of the unit. The senior has consistently shot in the mid-50s throughout the course of the year for the Indians.
“Logan coming back helps tremendously,” White said. “He was All-SOC last year. He missed a week there early in the season, but having him as a four-year guy, there isn’t a lot that gets to him. He’s a fairly solid player. He’s not going to go out and shoot 36 on anybody, but he’s consistently in the low to mid 40s. He knows enough about the game to help out with the guys who aren’t as experienced, especially with the nuances of the game.”
Behind Bloomfield, Kuhn and Morrow provide depth to a unit that could end up climbing the ladder in SOC II play. Kuhn has lowered his score from the 60s to a 51 en route to showing tremendous improvement from 2016 to 2017. Morrow, who is a talented baseball hand that shoots in the mid-50s from a stroke standpoint, will add more firepower once he returns from injury. The fourth scoring hand, John Merritt, has also improved significantly — his score has improved from a mark in the high 60s to a 56 in Valley’s last match.
“Jared’s a good athlete,” White said. “He has struggled early in the season with injuries, but we hope to get him back next week, and hopefully, he’ll be able to play. We’ll know a little more for certain next week. Andy has made some absolutely unbelievable strides. He went from shooting in the 60s last year to shooting on the verge of the mid to upper 40s this year. For John, the progress that he’s made in three weeks has been unbelievable. Our first day of practice this season was his first time ever on a golf course. He’s really come along. He still struggles with the shorthand stuff, but he’s really improved from an overall standpoint.”
Overall, White has confidence about the ability of his unit to break into the top rung of the SOC II realm.
“We want to be to where we’ve got at least three guys who can consistently break 50,” White said. “When Jared comes back, we can do that. I just want the kids to be confident in how they’re hitting the ball, so all of them can be really confident in the etiquette of the game.”
Over the past several seasons, the West Senators have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in SOC II play largely due to the play of current Shawnee State University golfing hand Jordan Tieman, among others.
But even though Tieman has moved on from the program, Eric Gray’s Senators are still in an excellent position to contend for a top-three finish in conference play, both now and in the future, thanks to who is present on the 2017 unit.
“I’m just looking for constant improvement,” Gray said of his season’s expectation. “Hopefully, as the season goes on, those scores will continue to drop. We’re still shooting for the upper half of the division there, and hopefully, we can advance out of the sectionals as a team. If not, hopefully a couple of individuals can.”
As a whole, Ethan Daniel, who will be the team’s lone departing player at season’s end, has proven to be West’s most consistent hand. Daniel has tended to shoot in the mid-40s from a stroke standpoint, with the senior collecting a season-best 42 in a dual-match against South Webster on August 10. New addition Chase Howell has already put together two consecutive rounds under 50, while Brady Whitt, Mitchell Malnar, Dustin Sowards, and Eli Adkins add scoring depth to a solid roster.
“We’re still a pretty young team,” Gray said. “Ethan’s our lone senior, and he’s been very consistent throughout most of the year so far. He’s been leading the way for us, not necessarily with his scoring, but with the experience that he brings for the younger guys. Brady and Dustin have also been really steady for us, and we have several first-year players making an impact for us and are adding a lot of enthusiasm to our roster.”
The level of competition that is present on West’s roster has helped the Senators establish a consistent presence at the top half of the leaderboard. Overall, the Senators are shooting in the low-200s as a team and collected a score of 197 in the first SOC II match of the year at Little Scioto Golf Course.
“We don’t have that guy who can throw out a stroke in the 30s on any given night, but we have a bunch of players who can shoot from the mid-40s to the low-50s,” Gray said. “I can usually count on four guys to be at that rate.”
As has been the case in nearly every sport that the Wheelersburg Pirates field, a high penchant for success is usually set and followed.
That is no different for the Pirates’ golf program in 2017, where a quartet of golfers — including Jaydren Guthrie, Trevin Mault, Carson McCorkle, and Tanner Stevenson — have set a strong penchant for what is to come as the program moves forward, according to Paul Boll.
“They’re getting better,” Boll said. “They’re very competitive. Regardless of what happens this year, I just want our guys to be consistent, and they have been.”
Wheelersburg’s roster is different from most Scioto County rosters in the sense that the scoring load is divided evenly through its freshman through senior classes. In fact, Guthrie, McCorkle, Stevenson, and Mault — the only quartet of golfers on the unit — are of senior, junior, sophomore, and freshman eligibility, respectively, and each provide the skill needed to make the Pirates a contender in the SOC II race as all four have the capability to shoot in the mid-to-high 40s in any given match.
“Jaydren provides leadership and has been there for a while,” Boll said. “He’s our captain. He’s always excited to get out there and he’s a very enthusiastic young man. Carson is a steady player. He’s pretty consistent, and he’s a very smart individual. Tanner is learning how to play the game, and each time that he plays, he gets better. As far as Trevin goes, he has been playing golf since he could pick up a club. He grew up over at the Elks. He has played a lot of golf, and he really enjoys playing it.”
After beginning the year with a total team stroke around the 191 mark, Wheelersburg has already improved immensely as the Pirates have consistently found themselves in the mid 180s. On Thursday, August 17, Wheelersburg shot a team score of 181 in the first SOC II match of the year at Little Scioto Golf Course.
If we continue to do what we need to do in order to be consistent,” Boll said, “we’ll bring our scores down.”
East and New Boston do not field golf programs. Green, Minford, and Northwest will be featured in a later issue of the Daily Times.