Christy chips

PLYMOUTH — A year away from a record-breaking year in 2019 Plymouth’s golfers are very anxious to get back on the links and keep that momentum going.
Two years ago the Pilgrims won the NLC conference title for just the second time in school history. How the team can follow that almost two years later remains to be seen.
“We’ve got a lot of unknowns heading into this season and I’m excited for the unknown element,” said Plymouth coach Ben Waymouth. “We’ve had a very limited time on the course so far. This week is our first outside week. A fair amount of the golf courses in the area don’t open up until after our spring break and we have a good amount of players that travel during the break so it’s hard to see what you have until you get on the course time, especially in a COVID year where none of our freshmen got to play.”
Bringing those freshmen — now sophomores — along will be important.
“I was telling them it’s hard for you not having played last year, you will have to think back to your eighth grade year when you were hitting off the short tees,” said Waymouth. “This year they move back to the men’s tees and a lot of times when you do that the hole looks a whole lot further away.”
Another factor at this time of year is the weather. Rather temperate the past few weeks, that can change at any moment in the spring.
“We tell the guys at this time of year to remember when they are putting their stuff together to come to practice that it’s never the same temperature when we start as it is when we finish,” said Waymouth. “So far we’ve been pretty lucky. It’s a challenge and every week it’s a different look for us.”
Over the past few years, Waymouth has also had good numbers in his program and that will continue in 2021.
“I have 16 guys this year and that’s a great number to have,” said Waymouth. “At one point my numbers were over 20 and I was afraid for the first since I’ve been coaching I might have to cut some kids from the program. Sixteen is a promising group.”
Exactly how much promise remains to be seen.
“It’s tough to get a read on that until we get some matches under our belt,” said Waymouth. “Our conference season is a big deal for us. We are lucky that we have two of our NLC matches at Pretty Lake. Getting those schools to have to come to our place is a big advantage for us.”
“It really matters where you play teams and where you play them in the schedule,” he said.
Getting experience on the fly will be important for the squad.
“We have a lot of guys that are green so far as experience goes. We’ve graduated three of the five kids from that squad (2019),” said Waymouth. “Owen Yoder is coming back for his senior year and as a sophomore on that team, he posted some solid scores but never had that really exceptional score. I know that’s a motivating factor for him is to put a couple of scores in the 70’s out there in NLC play.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see who our number one and two players are between him and the other returning player from that team (junior) Bennett Christy,” said Waymouth. “He’s worked hard on his swing and put in a lot of individual time.”
The key team slots are three through five as those scores many nights decide the team portion of the meet. At the end of the night, each team takes their top four scores and drops the lowest one. There is no unimportant round.
“Our three, four, and five we have some holes to fill,” said Waymouth. “Kyle Johnson has continued to improve and he should fill one of those spots. Ashton Blaylock has really improved. Eli Schramm has gotten a lot more physical and he will be one we look at.”
“We have some sophomores that could push into those roles but they are an unknown right now, and some freshman that should push them,” said Waymouth. “My hope is that they make the lineup decisions difficult.”
One of the top golf conferences in the northern half of the state in the NLC makes the season challenging. More of a challenge is that only one match is head to head. The others are triple meets with two other NLC squads.
“Our goal is always to finish in the upper half and we would like to think we are part of that top four with Warsaw,” said Waymouth. “I think Goshen has some up-and-coming players and I think they might be the surprise in the conference this year.”
Moving on from the conference schedule the sectional round at Rozella Ford in Warsaw is always a challenge. For individual players, there is the chance to move on without your team and that too is challenging.
“Hosting the regional again this year at Swan Lake is a huge advantage for us, and getting the team out of the sectional is always a goal,” said Waymouth. “I know Bennett Christy has some lofty goals. I know one of his goals is to get to state and if he continues to improve and play like he is capable of it could be a very real thing for him.”