SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Hinckley-Big Rock, senior
Every year at H-BR, the quality instruction and attention to detail shown by Royals coach Rod Jandt seems to finally sink in for a senior.
Then something clicks.
Mix in a determined effort to improve, lots of summer golf and Schoger is the latest H-BR player to maximize opportunity in his final prep campaign.
“Dirk is becoming the golfer we thought he could be,” Jandt said. “He’s striking the ball pure. He’s managing the ball well, hitting his driver in the fairway and has been a pleasant surprise.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Kaneland at Yorkville, 4 p.m. Friday at Blackberry Oaks
The Knights want to keep their undefeated standing atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 East at Blackberry Oaks, the Foxes’ tricky home course. Matt Yonkovich has a pair of even-par finishes this season in dual meets and leads a loaded Knights roster looking to repeat as champions in the East.
Kaneland golfers from Sugar Grove should negate the home-course edge as they play plenty of summer rounds on Yorkville’s course.
NOTEBOOK: Knights make history in defeat
Everyone knew a showdown was coming.
Kaneland (6-3, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) golfers play a full slate of IJGA events in the summer and knew Wheaton Academy – a program with a state title pedigree – would be a formidable foe Tuesday at Hughes Creek.
Despite the home-course edge and a record-low score in the eight years of coach Mark Meyer’s tenure, the Knights lost to Wheaton Academy, 149-150.
“We knew it would be a tough meet against a team that’s won a state title in the last few years,” Meyer said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the effort. We didn’t get the result, but played our best.”
Royals one up
Expectations were high for the Hinckley-Big Rock boys golf team.
Maybe a bit too high as the Royals started this fall slowly. But after two weeks off the course to grind swing drills on the range, the deep H-BR lineup has been able to go low. In a 173-174 win against Seneca last Thursday, the Royals’ (2-5) bucket beating paid off.
“We’ve got room to improve,” coach Rod Jandt said. “It’s been stations and drills for two weeks at practice. We’ve really bounced back nicely and averaged 43.25 strokes per player last week.”
Daniel Small has been the Royals’ most consistent scorer in his second prep season.
“Daniel has been amazing,” Jandt said. “I call him the sophomore sensation. He struggled with everything as a freshman. His fundamentals were just all wrong. But he has worked hard and continues to absolutely amaze the coaching staff.”
Barbs need to bring it
Practices have been crisp and featured good shots. Yet, DeKalb (0-3, 0-2) hasn’t found a way to scratch across a win in a dual meet.
Course management, club choice and shot selection all have been works in progress.
“Our younger guys have done OK,” Barbs coach John Cordes said. “Our veteran players have put some pressure on themselves to fulfill the No. 1 spot. They need to relax and let the course come to them.”
In a loss at Kaneland last week, a few players chose driver off the tee at Hughes Creek No. 2. Hazards and trouble surround the short hole and a hybrid or iron is the prudent play. Wayward driver shots from the tee brought trouble into play and excessive strokes to the final tally.
“Even if a conservative shot is played, there’s got to be a commitment to it,” Cordes said. “Right now our course management isn’t good. We are struggling with our long and short games. But it’s not for a lack of effort. We are doing the right things in practice. There’s still time left. If we can pick up a couple wins headed into conference, we can be peaking at the right time – in time for regionals.”
The Genoa-Kingston boys golf team has posted familiar scores all season.
G-K coach Mike Lauer said the Cogs’ (7-2) depth should help the trend continue.
“We want to put ourselves in a position that with a good showing at conference, we can win it,” Lauer said. “Byron and Burlington Central are awfully good, and there are other solid teams, but I like the consistency we’ve shown so far.”
Freshman Nick Adamcyk fired a 40 last week. A score out of the No. 5 slot that could make the Cogs a threat at the Big Northern Conference Invitational.
VIEWS: A course should test every club in the bag
When a post-round club cleaning involves only wedges and short irons, a predictable bomb-and-gouge round was played.
To avoid the driver-wedge routine, Kaneland coach Mark Meyer enjoys a course that tests every club in a player’s bag.
Meyer points out the Class 2A and 3A state courses as having the appropriate mix.
“Those are courses that can be stretched out a bit,” Meyer said. “Players can be challenged to hit long and short irons into a par-4. We don’t play a lot of courses like that in the regular season. It’s fun to be forced to play different shots as a player and coach. Players like to talk strategy before a round if options are present on a course.”
But it’s not just variety that makes a good setup. Players who have honed their swing and hit crisp, clean shots need a reward as well.
“A course should be set up fair with a forgiving fairway,” H-BR coach Rod Jandt said. “The course will reward a good ball-striker and hold them accountable with a long par-3 and have greens that roll well.”
As for appropriate length, Meyer likes the state set-up, which is about 6,700 or 6,800 yards. It’s an adjustment for players familiar with a shorter course. DeKalb has long enjoyed a home-course advantage at the tight, tree-lined Kishwaukee Country Club.
It’s possible a player never takes the head cover off their driver if he wants to think his way around Kishwaukee, and the Barbs know the intricacies on the smaller, old-fashioned greens.
“We play and practice at Kishwaukee,” DeKalb coach John Cordes said. “So we are used to tight fairways with small greens. We like to go out and face a challenge.”
DeKalb also has a new challenge this fall.
Of five golfers the Barbs took to the Fenton Invitational last Saturday, three were left-handers. With most courses built to reward right-handers who draw the golf ball, that presented a whole new challenge for DeKalb. Its lefties now had to slice the ball to find the fairway on doglegs.
It’s a unique quirk that Phil Mickelson has used to his advantage during the Masters at Augusta National.
It will be interesting to watch whether the Barbs can slice their way around a course in similar fashion.
• James Nokes is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. Write to him a email@example.com.