Top-ranked golfers rely on hours of prepartion as they sweep every contest, aiming for State title

 As the glowing sun started lowering in the cloudless sky and the growls in the men’s stomachs became angrier and angrier, men’s golf coach, Kenton Engels, yelled to the golfers scattered around the course “Lets call it a night.” 

But the men didn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Before they would leave for home, they planned on hitting balls until they “figured things out.” 

“Well, I mean, some people basically just live on the course during the summer. That’s how much they practice,” junior golf team member Kevin Yang said. 

The men’s golf team prepared all summer through tournaments with the Iowa Golf Association (IGA), practicing at Pheasant Ridge golf course and private golf lessons in hopes to come back from their fourth place finish at State last year and win it all this fall. 

“We work harder than a lot of other teams do, because we work on specific things at each practice. Other teams might just go out and play and be done with practice after,” freshman Maxwell Tjoa said. 

Four of the six varsity members are returning from last year, but Tjoa and freshman Owen Sawyer are new to the team this year. However, both came prepared for the challenge ahead. “We both played in a lot of tournaments, which helped us prepare for high school golf meets because we have never really done that before,” Sawyer said. 

Besides the team’s hard work ethic, Engels said their mindset is a large factor in what’s contributing to the team being undefeated and rated number one in the state.“I’ve never seen a more mature group of golfers, and that really helps them because when things inevitably go bad, they are able to turn it around on themselves,” he said. “A lot of their success is due to the fact that they are mentally strong where I think other people let the bad things catch up with them.” 

Like last year, the team is currently rated number one in the state and have the best scoring average of 146.5. The players said this rating does not faze them, but only motivates them even more. 

“I feel like I play better when there is more on the line. In those bigger meets I’ve played pretty good,” Sawyer said. 

“I feel like we have a solid group of guys. We always for some reason show up and play well. I’m not too worried about it,” junior Gus Ferguson said. 

If their confidence does elude them, top scorer and second in the state senior Jack Moody said Engels reminds the players to not overthink aspects of the game. “Coach does a good job of keeping us in the moment when we’re out there. He kind of calms us down if we’re not playing well and reminds us to just take it one step at a time,” Moody said. 

Although State is the team’s end of the season goal, they have smaller goals they are striving for as well. “Another small goal is to be competitive each day. It’s easy in any sport to show up to practice and be like “OK, I’m just going to go through the motions and get through the day,” Engels said. 

At seven o’clock when the player’s arms can’t lift up to swing another club and there is one last drop of sun left in the sky allowing them to see the hilly course in front of them, they walk to their cars, knowing when the time comes, their hard work will come through. “All of our top four are really solid. Most of the time we can take our games course to course. It doesn’t matter,” Fergunson said. 

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