The Chaminade Red Devils are set to play in their third consecutive state golf tournament.
The Red Devils, under coach Jack Wilson, have finished third in the past two years behind Springfield Glendale and Kansas City Rockhurst in the Class 4 state tournament.
Those two schools are back at state along with Jackson, Jefferson City, Marquette, Liberty, and Rock Bridge.
“There are some incredibly talented teams playing,” Wilson said. “Rock Bridge and Rockhurst, as always, have a number of excellent golfers. Jackson, who beat us by one stroke at sectionals, brings talent, as does Glendale. It should be a great tournament, with the winning team being able to successfully navigate the course and handle the pressure.”
This will be the 79th year for the Missouri State High School Activities Association boys golf championships.
The Class 4 state meet begins it’s two-day run Monday (May 14). It will be played at Swope Park Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. The cost to watch a round is $8.
Chaminade finished second in the District 2 meet played at The Landings at Spirit Golf Club. That qualified the Red Devils for the Sectional 1 meet at Westwood Hills Country Club in Poplar Bluff.
It was a challenging spring for golf, Wilson said.
“Like every high school team this spring, our season was drastically impacted by the weather,” Wilson said. Historically, my teams have needed the four tournaments and 10 matches to start playing at the level they were at the end of the summer. With two tournaments canceled, I was not sure how the guys would play when we got to the district and sectional rounds of the season.
“I am very proud of the way they played throughout the cold season. I think they were determined to prove to me, and the other teams, how ready they were to play in the high-pressure end of the season tournaments.”
Chaminade shot a 303 at the sectional, one stroke behind Jackson.
“Westwood Hills is a fun course. The players really enjoyed the length and the challenges that the course offered,” Wilson said. “I think knowing the course is vital to scoring well there. Our practice round and team meeting were focused on getting to know each hole as best as we could before we teed off.
“After spotting the field a few strokes on the first four or five holes, the guys really played well for the final holes of the front and the back nine. Our 303 was good, but I’m excited knowing that they can all play a little better, which is what we will need to do in Kansas City.”
Senior Colin Stolze had a 72 to tied for second. Stolze is a three-time state qualifier.
“Colin has been steady for us the last four years,” Wilson said. “He played well the whole day, and he is eager to do the same at Swope Memorial. This will be his third state tournament, so he will be able to help the younger golfers deal with the pressure they will feel when they step on that first tee on Monday morning.”
Sophomore Josh Heidenry fired a 76 to tie for eighth place.
“Josh had a great summer and has carried his consistency over to the high school season,” Wilson said. “He is patient with his game and is fun to watch. Nothing seems to rattle him. He is fully capable of shooting some great scores for us next week.”
Junior Zach Walsh had a 77 to tie for 12th place.
“Zach also had a great summer, and was low man at the Bulldog Battle last month,” Wilson said. “He was on the state team last year, and his experience there will help him prepare for Monday and Tuesday.”
Freshman Jack Guyot had a 78, which tied him for 19th place.
“Jack is our freshman representative on the state squad. He had a busy summer, playing in some great tournaments,” Wilson said. “Playing at the state tournament will give him the chance to show everyone how poised and focused he can be. For example, he sank a birdie putt on the 18th hole at the sectional tournament – in front of the older guys, who had already finished.”
It’s a good accomplishment, Wilson said, for his program to reach state this spring.
“Our district and sectional tournaments are loaded with talent,” Wilson said. “It’s a shame that some great teams did not qualify. We feel fortunate to have shot well, and the players are excited about playing next week. They all play in summer tournaments, and I think this prepares them for these types of situations.”
Now it’s on to state and playing at Swope Park.
Designed in 1934 by legendary architect A.W. Tillinghast, Swope Memorial Golf Course was once the home of the PGA Tour’s Kansas City Open (1949), making it the only public course in the area to have hosted a PGA Tour event. Carved out of the wooded land in Swope Park, this tight layout, along with its undulated fairways and multi-tiered greens, provides a true test of golf; one that legends Ben Hogan and Sam Snead have been challenged by.
The course plays to 6,247 yards.
“Only one of our players has seen Swope before,” Wilson said. “Our practice round will be invaluable to learning the best way to play the course. The western teams will know it well, so we will be doing a great deal of research before we go over there on Sunday.”
After two third-place finishes at state, this is basically a new group to play at state for Chaminade.
“The players that represented Chaminade the last two years have all graduated except for Colin,” Wilson said. “These new guys are reminded every time they come into my office about how close we have come the last two years. Capturing third place is an incredible feat, but they all want to be a part of state championship. They will do their best to bring home the big trophy this year.”
Chaminade will be making its fifth trip to state in the last six years.
“This is something that we are very proud of, and we also recognize how fortunate we have been,” Wilson said. “It has been almost 15 years since our program won the state tournament, so we are hoping that things roll in our favor.
“It is a shame that some very good teams and individuals from the schools around here do not have the opportunity to play in the state tournament. We feel fortunate to have won the opportunity to represent our fellow district and sectional teams in Kansas City next week. The guys are eager to get the tournament started.”