Photo by Ty Browning
After a long and grueling winter filled with snow and 17 degree weather, the East boys golf team was forced to cancel their tryouts and cutting process for the season, which meant everyone who came out for tryouts made the team.
24 players made the team this season, while in years past the number of players has not surpassed 19. The boys were split up after spring break based on ability into a varsity team of six and a JV team with the remaining 18. While the players don’t move between the two teams, they can golf in different tournaments based on how they play each week.
The team’s increased size for the season caused them to alter the way they prepare for the tournaments though practice rotations and inner team competition.
The boys were unable to perform a full round of golf until after spring break, putting them two weeks behind schedule.
“It just wasn’t fair to cut someone if I hadn’t even seen them play golf,” boys golf coach of JV and varsity, Evan Scobie said.
The golf courses that the team practices on only allow for 12 or 16 players per practice. This forces the coaches to decide which players are in and which players are out for each practice. And because they are at private country clubs — such as Oakwood, Milburn, Mission Hills and Kansas City Country Club — they have no ability to bend rules to accommodate their numbers, according to Scobie.
“It’s really hard,” Scobie said. “When four or eight of the guys are sitting out, it separates your team. My gut feeling is, I hope it’s not the case, but I’m afraid some of them feel they are not on the team during the season.”
The lack of practice space means JV players are forced to trade off, guaranteeing some only two practices a week, according to Scobie.
But some players are finding ways to make the lack of space manageable — like sophomore Major Park, who said he’s still focused on working on his game by taking lessons outside of team practice.
The team’s dynamic has changed along with its structure, according to Scobie – especially its goal of winning state in May.
“[The situation] is definitely a positive one because everyone is playing to be able to compete in the tournaments, so we all want to do our best all the time,” varsity golfer and junior Will Harding said.
The desire to be able to play in the golf tournaments from the varsity and borderline JV players keeps up the inner team competition with more boys than spots open at tournaments, according to Scobie
The player’s devotion to the game however has brought the boys closer, according to Scobie. He said there is a nice mix of seriousness and goofing around amongst the team, boosting the development on the course.
Scobie on the other hand only wants one thing, no matter who is playing for him. Although he would describe himself as a laid back and loose coach, Scobie said winning is his main priority — and he’ll play the best player between his teams, regardless of the age and ranking, to win.
So far this season, the varsity team placed first at the Lake Quivira tournament, third at the Lions Gate tournament, fourth at the Oakwood tournament and fifth at the Deer Creek tournament. JV placed second at the Lions Gate tournament.
There are at least four more tournaments for the boys before off-season. Based off of their tournament performance this season, they are expected to place high in all of them, according to Scobie.
“I think if we just play our normal golf, we are the best team,” Scobie said. “And I probably would have said that last year too, and the year before, when we finished second. But I like our guys, so I think we are going to be good.”