With courses' help, high school teams develop North Carroll program makes debut this season

September 08, 1996|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Special to the Sun

Carroll County's high school golf program continues its growth, thanks in part to the assistance of area golf courses.

The addition of a golf team at North Carroll High this year means four of the county's five public schools now field teams. Francis Scott Key started a team last year and Liberty began a squad five years ago.

Previously, Westminster had been the only county team, though that squad was disbanded for the 1981 season because of county budget cuts. In the mid- to late-1980s, the Owls were one of the top teams in their district and placed second in the state tournament one year.

Players from other county schools were allowed to travel with the Westminster team and play as independents, and a group of players from the other four county schools even played together as an unofficial team for a couple of years in the late 1980s.

Ten years ago, there were only two 18-hole courses and one nine-hole layout in the county. In recent years, though, Wakefield Valley has added nine holes and new 18-hole layouts have opened at Bear Creek north of Westminster, Oakmont Green in Hampstead, River Downs in Finksburg and Challedon near Mount Airy.

"The people out there are really interested in seeing the kids improve," said Liberty co-coach John Magee about the staff at Bear Creek, where his team and Key practice and play home matches.

Bill Welch, Key's coach, echoed Magee's thoughts, noting that Bear Creek golf instructor Gil Taylor hopes the expanded high school interest will boost the club's junior golf program.

Westminster's relationship with Wakefield Valley goes back many years. The Owls used to hold a major invitational tournament at the course every fall.

Jim Boesler, co-coach of the new North Carroll team, said the staff at Oakmont Green has "been wonderfully cooperative" with his team.

On the course, Westminster should again field the most experienced squad. Liberty and Key both expect to see better scores from their players, though the coaches don't know if that will translate into better records. North Carroll, meanwhile, will play a limited four-match schedule.

Westminster returns four quality golfers from a team that went 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Central Maryland Conference last year. Sophomore Wade Shaw was one of three Owls to advance to the state tournament a year ago and he placed 18th in the event. This year, co-coaches Jeff Ibex and Guy Stull hope to have the six-person team qualify for the states.

"We hope to average in the low 40s [per golfer for nine holes]," Ibex said. "If we can shot in the 210 range [as a team], we should do fairly well. I think we can shoot better than that on any given day."

Joining Shaw as the team's top golfers are seniors Chris Long and Zack Taylor and junior Ryan Angell. Frederick, which beat Westminster twice a year ago, should battle with the Owls in the CMC, where six golfers compete and the five best scores count toward the team score.

Sophomore Michael Darr is expected to lead Key, which is coming off a 4-5-1 inaugural season. "I look for him to really keep improving," said Welch of his top player, who fired a 77 in a summer junior tournament at Wakefield Valley.

"They're playing within themselves," said Welch, who had 21 players come out for the team before cutting the squad to 10. "You get a little more experience and that really helps."

Other top players for the Eagles have been sophomore Brian Brilhart and seniors Brad Jenkins, David Swain and Michael Patterson.

Liberty hopes to improve upon last year's 0-8-1 campaign with better depth. "We don't have anybody who's going to go out and shoot a 34 [for nine holes]," said Magee, who coaches the squad with Scott Kohr. "But our bottom is much better than it has been."

Andrew Harrison is the leading golfer now, and he's the only returning player among the top six as the season starts, though Magee said that could change during the season.

Boesler and co-coach Steve Hollins don't know what to expect as the Panthers embark on their golf journey. The Panthers had 25 players try out and kept 13.

"It would sure be nice to have five kids shoot 45 plus or minus some strokes for each round," Boesler said. "Right now, consistency seems to be the biggest key."

The most consistent player in practice thus far seems to be junior Craig Gordon.

Girls appear to be showing more interest in golf this year, too. Two girls have come out for the team at Key, though Welch said neither is likely to be a major scoring factor, but sophomore Claire Brumfitt could be one of the better golfers at North Carroll.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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