Some of the state’s best high school golfers will take a break from ordinary competition at 9 a.m. today in the Columbia Classic at A.L. Gustin Golf Course.
Hickman and Rock Bridge will host 17 boys’ teams including DeSmet, last year’s state champion in Class 4, and Chaminade, the runner-up. Chaminade boasts individual state champion Zach Pranger.
“Rockhurst, DeSmet and Chaminade are always among the teams to beat,” Hickman coach Clark Swisher said. “Pranger is a kid who wants to be a pro golfer... and he’s just been great for two years.”
Helias, Jefferson City, Rockhurst’s junior varsity and Boonville are among the teams playing. Helias’ Conner McHenry finished 14th at the state tournament last year.
Each team will compete in three different formats. Two golfers from each team will play 18 holes, two will play in a nine-hole best-ball format, and two will play in a nine-hole scramble.
A unique tournament format on a Columbia course might be the cure for the Kewpies’ slow start to their season. They have lost to Rockhurst and Rock Bridge in their first two meets.
Last season, Hickman finished eighth at the state tournament and won the district title.
“That’s why the expectations for us are so high,” Hickman’s D.J. Chung said.
“Our start hasn’t been that great and we definitely think we can play better.”
Chung, a junior, won the Columbia Classic as a freshman and tied for 17th at the state tournament last season.
He said he is most familiar with A.L. Gustin and practiced there with his teammates Friday.
“It helps to know where to go on which hole,” Chung said. “There are no surprises for us out there.”
Chung and junior Josh Brady will play 18 holes each for the Kewpies today. While less consistent than Chung, Brady has 115 mph club speed, according to Swisher.
Wednesday, Brady shot a 37 to tie Rock Bridge’s Ben Lake as the medalist in a quadrangular meet.
Swisher said Lake and fellow Bruin Jeff Pope have been two of Rock Bridge’s top golfers this season.