Nerves affect Hickman, Rock Bridge golfers more than weather

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 9:15 p.m. CDT; updated 9:28 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 19, 2013

COLUMBIA — It didn’t look or feel like the beginning of the high school golf season.

The tree-lined fairways that cover Lake of the Woods Golf Course stood leafless. Parts of the ground were soggy. The Zoysia grass, used for the tee and fairways, hasn’t grown back yet; it’s still too cold for that to happen.

However, despite the 43-degree weather, slight winds and an overcast sky, Rock Bridge and Hickman boys golf teams had more problems with opening match jitters than the less-than-favorable conditions.

Austin Culbertson of Hickman was possibly the bravest golfer of the day. After a botched tee-shot on the first hole, Culbertson decided to take off his jacket because he felt it was restricting his swing. The junior played the rest of the match in a long-sleeve undershirt and a purple Hickman polo. Culbertson, who finished with a score of 46 in the 9-hole match, said the bad start affected him more than the weather.

“I had some jitters on the first hole,” Culbertson said. “After that it (the round) was fine."

Hickman golfers weren't the only ones who were on edge. Matt Echelmeier, a sophomore from Rock Bridge, also agreed that nerves were a bigger factor than the conditions.

"The coldness hurt us a little bit, but it was mostly first match jitters," Echelmeier said. "After a while your nose gets numb, and you don't even feel it (the coldness) anymore." 

Echelmeier, who finished at 41, helped the Bruins defeat the Kewpies 163-186 on Tuesday evening.

Both coaches figured the weather wasn't going to affect their golfers' games much either, besides making them walk faster, which is a good thing in golf. 

"They're kids. Kids don't get cold," Hickman coach Clark Swisher said with a laugh. "I didn't get cold as a kid."

Rock Bridge coach Doug Daniels was also happy that the rivals were able to get their first match in today, regardless of the outcome or conditions.

"It's the first match of the season, so everyone wants to start off well," said Daniels. 

Both coaches said they already have their eyes set on the Columbia Classic which tees-off at 9 a.m. on April 1 at A.L. Gustin Golf Course.

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