David Lancaster, head coach of the York Comprehensive High School boys’ golf team, anticipated growing pains when the 2014 season began.
Such was the case Monday when the Cougars competed against rival Clover, with the unbeaten Blue Eagles prevailing 164-177 at the sprawling Spring Lake Country Club course near York.
“Three of four scorers from the 2013 team graduated,” Lancaster said before Monday’s Region 3-AAAA match.
The team also took a hit before the season began, losing sophomore Damon Heath to an ACL knee injury.
“Damon is working hard during the recovery process and will be back next season,” Lancaster said.
Junior Austin Hall, who made his presence felt with a 42 in Monday’s match with the Blue Eagles, is the most experienced golfer on the YCHS team.
Hall, who’s contributed to the Blue Eagle golf program since seventh-grade, elevated his game each year. He reached the number one spot this season.
Hall’s ascent to number one didn’t come without intense offseason preparations.
“I play in tournaments throughout the year, and it has made a difference,” he said. “I will continue to compete in tournaments.”
Hall is aware of the challenges to be met in every phase of the game.
“My approach shots are the finest point of my game at this stage of the season,” he said.
Hall devotes much time to honing his chipping and putting.
“If you cannot chip and putt, you won’t make it in this sport,” Hall said.
Despite the Cougars’ youth and inexperience, Hall said the team is coming along.
In addition to Hall’s contributions, Lancaster is counting on upperclassmen Chandler Sain, Tucker Laney and Chayce Blackwell to step up and show their game.
“Senior Will Culp and newcomers Tripp Bryant and Hamilton McGarity are showing promise,” he said.
Lancaster has been pleasantly surprised with the early-season play of York Middle School golfers Landon Joye and Tyler Ellis.
“I am also seeing good things from Seth Miller and Andrew Roderick,” he added.
While the team is showing steady improvement, Lancaster said the region tournament at Chester is the time to peak.
“The region tournament is for all of the marbles,” he said. “A team can struggle in the regular season and still advance to the upper state by finishing in the top four in the region tournament.
“For the Cougars to be successful and compete well at the region tournament in May, they must continue to work on their chipping and putting and reduce wasted shots and careless course management mistakes,” Lancaster said.
Individual scoring in Monday’s match included Hall and Sain carding a 42. Laney finished at 45 and Ellis 48.