By BRAD BAUGHMAN
For The Democrat
EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to writing about sports for the Brown County Democrat, Brad Baughman is the varsity boys golf coach. He wrote this reflection about the team so far this season.
We are a month into the 2023 golf season, and things are unfolding as they normally do for our Brown County High School boys golf team.
First, the weather has been predictably unpredictable. We have played in shorts and short sleeved golf shirts with a generous slathering of sunscreen applied, and we have played in much cooler conditions that called for multiple layers of outerwear, a stocking cap, and gloves.
Second, we have struggled to play to our potential. Each of our golfers has had his share of great moments, good moments, and some moments better forgotten.
Third, and most importantly, we once again have a roster of outstanding young men who all love the game of golf, who get along splendidly with one another, who strive to get better each day, and who represent their school and community in exemplary fashion.
The graduation of four quality seniors last year left us with only four returning players this season. Bradley Arndt, our lone senior, returns for his third year as a varsity player. He, as did all Indiana high school athletes, lost the 2020 spring season due to COVID. Bradley has settled into our No. 3 spot in the lineup, and I can count on him to provide leadership and a mature voice in team decisions.
Clay Austin, a junior, played in the three spot for us last season and currently is our No. 1 player. Clay established a couple personal bests in the Mustang Invitational earlier in April when he posted an 85 that included a 39 on the back nine, his first sub 40 round in competition. Playing in the one slot, Clay will get to see and compete with some of the best golfers in the area this spring.
Sophomores Wesley Arndt and Liam Cassiday both got a taste of varsity golf last season and currently hold our No. 2 and No. 4 positions respectively. Wesley also posted a career best score in the Musang Invitational and has the ability to push Clay for the top spot in the lineup. The Mustang Invitational was the first 18-hole event Liam had competed in, and he carded a 103, the team’s third best score in the event.
While it does take four players to score in high school golf, and the four that I just mentioned are going to be counted on heavily, we were extremely fortunate to add a couple of newcomers to the roster.
Juniors Jon Kirchhofer and Will Hiatt decided to give golf a try this spring. Jon was a member of the BCHS tennis team in the fall, while Will ran cross country for the Eagles. Both are making noticeable improvements as they focus on learning the basic fundamentals of the game.
With a small roster, all six golfers will see plenty of playing time. I will attempt to get them all on the course every chance I can during our weekday dual and tri-matches. For the three Saturday invitationals, the Western Indiana Conference Championships, and the IHSAA Sectional, I will always try to put the five best players available on the course.
We have had a bit of an up-and-down start to our season.
After dropping our season opener to Hauser at Clifty Creek Golf Course, we split a tri-match at Foxcliff Golf Course, losing to Martinsville and defeating Indian Creek. We split another tri-match that same week at Cascades Golf Course, getting pummeled by Edgewood and narrowly getting past Owen Valley.
Following a ninth place finish in the twelve-team Mustang Invitational on April 15, we finally played our first home match the next Monday and were soundly defeated by a very strong Brownstown Central Braves team.
This past Saturday we competed with a quality field of teams in the Artesian Classic at Foxcliff Golf Course. Unfortunately, those results have not yet been posted.
We have five dual matches between now and the WIC on Saturday, May 13. Three of those matches are scheduled for our home course, Salt Creek Golf Retreat.
It is my expectation that during this stretch, our players will continue to improve their shot making skills and their course management skills, which should translate to more confidence on the course and better scores.
In the meantime, I will just enjoy being around this group.They are attentive, respectful, good natured, competitive, and polite, and I look forward to seeing how the remainder of our season will play out.