By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
David Lee knows he’s facing challenges as he takes over the reins of both the Enid High boys and girls golf programs.
The Plainsmen haven’t qualified for state as a team since 2007. The Pacers, for the first time in Lee’s 17-year tenure, didn’t qualify for state a year ago.
“We have had some tremendous teams here,’’ Lee said. “Now, we’re trying to get them back to that. We have things in place to have successful teams, but they have to take advantage of it. They have to spend a lot of time out here (golf course). It’s not easy.’’
The Pacers and Plainsmen, Lee said, benefit from having both a good public (Meadowlake) and private (Oakwood Country Club) facility to play at. Local pros Tim Mendenhall and Cody Lack have been strong supporters of junior golf.
“We have a great golf community here,’’ Lee said.
The Plainsmen graduated Ashton Armstrong, the lone local qualifier for the state tournament the past two years.
They do return three starters from a year ago in Colton Jackson, Mason North and Stephen Nicholas.
Jackson opened the season with an 80 at Stillwater’s Lakeside course, and spent much of last summer on the course.
North had an 87 at Stillwater, but “is capable of shooting a lot lower than that,’’ Lee said.
Nicholas had a 91, but had a 42 on the back, which is considered to be tougher than the front.
“He’s a guy capable of shooting in the high 70s or low 80s,’’ Lee said.
Lucas Dillingham, who played baseball in the past, had a 97. Chris Hayes had a 108.
Lee was encouraged four Plainsmen spent Sunday playing a practice round at Lew Wentz for a scheduled tournament today at Ponca City. That tournament has been postponed because of cold weather.
“I’m excited about the commitment these guys have made,’’ Lee said. “We have a long ways to go, but with some hard work, we have enough talent to have a chance of being a good team at the end of the season.’’
He said Enid’s biggest strength could be its depth. He said there’s not much difference from No. 4 to No. 9. Freshmen and sophomores Haskell Henson, Brent Nicholas, Patrick Blevins, Brooks Houston and Jack Batchelder are pushing for varsity spots.
“Golf is all those guys do,’’ Lee said. “It’s exciting to have a group like that. I think the guys in the varsity lineup now realize they have to continue to work to lower their scores, because they do have some people behind them. Anytime you have competition within your team, it’s going to make you better.’’
The Pacers return their No. 4 (Kayci McClendon) and No. 5 (Baylee Roberts) from last year’s team, which was seventh in the regional.
The Pacers have gone to tournaments at Guthrie and Stillwater, and had only one score under 100.
Katelynn Bennett, who played as a sophomore but concentrated on softball last spring, is averaging 99.5 strokes per round
McClendon averaged 106 and Roberts 108.5. Madison Boler is averaging 110.5 and Sydney Davenport 123.
The Pacers don’t have the dominant No. 1 or even No. 2 or No. 3 players they have had in the past. Lee said he sees Bennett and McClendon as capable of shooting in the mid-90s.
Lee was encouraged the Pacers shot 31 shots better (409) at Guthrie than they did at Stillwater (440). The scores, he said, should get better as the weather warms up.
Most of the players are involved in another sport — Bennett, softball; McClendon and Davenport, volleyball; and Blevins, cheerleader.
“Golf is not the sole priority in their life,’’ Lee said. “I do think they are competitive and want to represent the school in a first-class manner. They need to come to practice every day and focus on the things they need to do to improve their games and lower their scores.’’
Lee said improvement is the main goal now.
“It’s a little different than the past,’’ he said.
Joy Suh and Kenzie Miles are close behind for varsity spots. Suh had a126 at Guthrie and Miles had a 131.
“It’s a really close battle between them and the No. 4 and No. 5 spots,’’ Lee said. “Hopefully, that will push the other girls.’’
Lee said he has enjoyed coaching both teams, although it’s a little hectic. He said scheduling has been his biggest challenge.
Lee got a late start because he was an assistant girls basketball coach, but Mandi Mayberry was supervising both teams in his absence.
“She’s done a tremendous job with them since August,’’ Lee said. “She had them qualifying once a week and had a computer program for me.’’
Enid’s boys will host their tournament April 1 at both Meadowlake and Oakwood. The girls host their tournament April 4 at Meadowlake.쇓