KEARNEY — Golf, like baseball, is often criticized for its pace of play. Some folks think the games are played too slow, while others argue it’s what makes them great.
For people who really aren’t fans of slow play, Wednesday’s Class C state tournament at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course in Kearney was not for them.
After Tuesday’s round was canceled due to inclement weather, all of the marbles were placed on Wednesday’s 18 holes to crown a champion.
The day got off to a rough start. Tee times were behind almost from the get-go and some groups’ rounds took upwards of six hours to complete.
The No. 1 group of golfers, including Doniphan-Trumbull’s Griffin Hendricks, Grand Island Central Catholic’s Eli Fox, Cambridge’s Preston Carbaugh, and Oakland-Craig’s Ian Lundquist, which was scheduled to tee off at 11:20 a.m., didn’t do so until closer to noon.
Their first two holes took over an hour to complete. What’s worse, the foursome was stalled, on multiple occasions, for 20 minutes or more just waiting to tee off.
The culprit? Other groups looking for errant shots.
Six hours after teeing off, around 6 p.m., the final group sunk their final putts, removed their hats, shook hands, and conferred with NSAA officials to ensure each scorecard was accurate.
“It should not have been a six-hour round,” Doniphan-Trumbull head coach Chris Seberger said afterward.
At the end of it all, Cambridge’s Carbaugh earned the individual gold with a 74, which was three-over par for the course. GICC repeated as the team champion, edging Battle Creek by a stroke, with a combined score of 324.
D-T’s Hendricks carded an 81, and finished tied for ninth with Yutan’s Will Elgert. Ironically enough, Hendricks, a junior, played in his only other state golf tournament last year with Yutan.
The Cardinals finished 13th as a team with a 384. Behind Hendricks’ 81 were Andrew Stock (95), Ethan Smith (102), Carson Niemoth (106), and Cole Essex (108).
Seberger was satisfied with the team’s progress from where they were a year ago.
“This is the first boys team from Doniphan-Trumbull that’s made it to state 2003,” she said. “We’re not going to be too upset about it. They know they could’ve played better, but we’re here and that was our goal.”
Seberger said just the experience of playing in the state environment was meaningful to her young program. The Cardinals brought two freshman to the state tournament to go along with three juniors.
“Just the experience of playing on a tougher course, having the crowd around and feeling that pressure, that in itself is worth everything.”
Hendricks likes to play up tempo, but Wednesday’s pace didn’t allow him to do that.
“You really can’t let that get to you, but it definitely affected me today,” Hendricks said. “That’s something I’m disappointed in myself about, but I’m a fast player and it kind of takes away my focus from the game when I have to wait that long (between shots).”
Seberger noted she saw some frustration out of her No. 1 golfer, but the larger issue was his short game.
“Griff couldn’t buy a putt today. He was striking the ball well. If he got in trouble, he’d get out of it,” Seberger said. “He played it smart, but his short game let him down and he left quite a few out there.”
Hendricks agreed his putter was a downer.
“I was pleased with how I was getting from the tee to the green, but then on the green it was pretty bad,” he said. “I tried to change my stroke up a bit, but it seems like everything I tried didn’t go my way. It is what it is I guess.”
Playing in the No. 1 group didn’t faze Hendricks. He enjoyed being around such talented golfers, and he hung around with them most of the day.
After shooting a 41 on the front, which was four strokes behind Lundquist of Oakland-Craig to that point, Hendricks shot par through the first six holes on the back. The final three holes quickly dimmed his chances of a better placement individually. He bogeyed 16 and 17 before double-bogeying 18 for a round of 40.
One shot he will regret in the grand scheme of things is a missed putt for eagle on the 12th green. Hendricks drove it long off the tee and wedged it up onto the green with his second stroke. His putt was makeable, but it rimmed out and carried well past the hole. He ended up two-putting from there and parring the hole.
Hendricks also missed out on a birdie from around 8 feet on the par three 15th. His shot off the tee was the closest to the pin, but he failed to gain a stroke and parred there as well.
The Cardinals don’t lose any members of the team to graduation.
“They’re already talking about coming back,” Seberger said.
Carbaugh and Lundquist led the way in the group for most of the day. GICC’s Fox was in the mix down the stretch as well.
Carbaugh, of Cambridge, was 2-under par through his first six holes. He looked hard to beat until a collapse on the eighth where he found the pond and ended up using eight strokes to finish the hole.
“I was 2-under going into hole eight. I got a bad break on the drive and unfortunately, I hit it in the water. I had a bad shot on my drop and my coach just told me to keep my head in it...I knew it would pay off in the end,” Carbaugh said.
His setback was cured with birdies on the 10th and the 12th.
On the 12th, Carbaugh sliced his drive off the tee and spectators and officials searched for it in the straw grass off the fairway. When it was located, his only choice was to punch it into the fairway and burn a stroke. His next shot was arguably his most impressive of the day. He drilled a shot over the trees aimed right for the flag. It dropped on the green about 15 feet from the hole. He drained the birdie putt and pumped his fist.
Fox and Lundquist gave valiant efforts to catch Carbaugh, but couldn’t make up the ground. Fox’s effort of shooting a 76 did give the Crusaders their second straight team title, however.
Carbaugh won every single event he played in this season, including the Class C state tournament.
“I played in seven regular season events and districts and now state. I won every event I played in this year. I’m 9-0, I guess you could say,” Carbaugh said with a grin. “This one is definitely better than all of the others.”
Thayer Central’s Jackson Fuelner, a junior, finished tied for 25th with an 87. Fillmore Central sophomore Koby Head shot a 101.
1, GICC 324; 2, Battle Creek 325; 3, Oakland-Craig 349; 4, Lincoln Christian 354; 5, Johnson County Central 363; 6, Kearney Catholic 367; 7, Kimball 368; 8, David City 372; 9, BRLD 475; 10, Hartington CC 376; 11, Lincoln Lutheran 377; 12, Yutan 378; 13, Doniphan-Trumbull 384; 14, Valentine 401; 15, Perkins County 409
1, Preston Carbaugh, Cam, 74; 2, Riley Kuehn, HCC, 76; 2, Eli Fox, GICC, 76; 2, Ian Lundquist, O-C, 76; 5, Jake Hagerbaumer, LV, 77; 5, Jack Goering, GICC, 77; 7, Luke Stueve, BC, 79; 8, Ty Heimes, BC, 80; 9, Will Elgert, Yutan, 81; 9, Griffin Hendricks, D-T, 81; 11, Jacob Woodmancy, PC, 82; 11, Caydon McCracken, BC, 82