The questions and answer query going on inside Murray Ginther’s head was almost dizzying for the Armstrong boys golf coach.
Who would solidify himself as the team’s No. 1? Would that person be alone? Do we have enough behind the top spots to post a competitive score? If so, who would rise to the occasion?
Finding an answer to any or all of those questions was difficult, as golf courses remained closed through much of April, which is a month generally dedicated to providing Ginther with some sort of idea to what direction the team would go.
“I had no answer,” said Ginther. “I really didn’t now what to expect.”
As it has turned out, there apparently wasn’t much reason to fret.
The Armstrong boys golf team made its season debut last week with a pair of 18-hole Northwest Suburban Conference outings, and the results answered just about every question Ginther privately asked himself.
The Falcons opened by placing third among the 11 conference teams by posting a team score of 317 at Rush Creek April 29. Two days later, with a heavy wintry-mix in the air, Armstrong shaved four strokes off that total to place second in an NWSC match at Tanners Brook.
More impressively, they had a medalist in each of the first two rounds.
Cole Soffa fired an even par 72 to win at Rush Creek and then Ryan Maiers shot a 2-over par 73 to share first place honors with Maple Grove’s Jake Herdine at Tanners Brook.
“It has really been a pleasant surprise,” said Ginther. “We have some guys that have never had to post scored at the varsity level in the past, but they have stepped up. It has been real fun to see.”
Of all the schedule concerns raised by the weather this spring, the Northwest Suburban Conference boys golf season appears as if it will go on as planned.
That means all five scheduled events, plus the NWCS’s May 23 finale will all be contested.
It also means that Armstrong could be a serious force in the league this spring.
Through two rounds, Maple Grove is the obvious front-runner after winning each of the first two events. But Armstrong and Blaine have each finished second already, leaving the two teams in a virtual tie for second.
“We can hang around, but the big question now will be can we get some consistency from our other guys,” asked Ginther. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can.”
Soffa’s already in a groove. He followed his 72 at Rush Creek with a 74 at Tanners Brook.
Sophomore Jake Delaney shot 77 in the round at Rush Creek. Danny Sontowski had an 82 at Tanners Brook, and Ben Hansen shot 84 that day.
Their secret to success has been interesting. With most of the players missing a bunch of school time in order to compete, Ginther said the added stress of keeping up on homework can be detrimental.
So, in response, he has asked his guys to use the golf course to take their minds away from the everything else they are dealing with.
“Let all your worries fade and away and just play golf,” said Ginther, whose team will play NWSC matches at Elk River and Loggers Trail this week. “I just want to make sure they can balance all that other stuff with golf. I am lucky. I have some great kids. But I want golf to be fun, so come out here and relax and try to play well. So far, so good.”
Contact Nick Clark at email@example.com