Districts a matter of course

Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:45 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 28, 2008

When Hickman and Rock Bridge tee off today, they will contend with more than the area’s best golfers.

Sedalia Country Club, the tournament’s host, is under construction for repairs and improvements. It is the host of the Class 4, District 5 tournament that starts today at 9 a.m. The top two teams will advance to the state tournament May 17-18 at Deer Lake Golf Course in Springfield.

“We’re redoing all of our bunkers and tees.” said Jeff Hanef, a club pro at Sedalia Country Club said. “We started construction in late February and it will probably run through late June.”

Hanef said that he thought the construction would not change the course’s play, but after surveying the Sedalia Country Club on Friday, Hickman coach Clark Swisher disagrees.

“My original understanding was that there was going to be maybe some temporary tee boxes, but that the course was going to be in pretty good shape by the time we go there.” Swisher said.

“They had a tournament … in the early part of the season that was canceled because of construction. When I got out there, seven of the 18 tee boxes were on temporary tee boxes and they are slanted, not level. With kids of this caliber … we probably should have a better course to play on.”

Swisher and three other area coaches found five alternate sites for the tournament, but B.J. Curry, the Smith-Cotton coach and tournament director, declined to move the tournament.

Dale Pleimann, MSHSAA’s assistant executive director, said that though the conditions are not ideal, the course is playable.

“I know the Sedalia Country Club works very hard to have an excellent course and yet we all know, at some point and time, golf courses go under service.” Pleimann said. “It’s not a major problem if the tees aren’t set and they have to use temporary tees. It’s not ideal but I would much prefer that the fairways and the greens be in good shape than the tee boxes.”

Swisher sees clear problems with the course.

“The greens, I think, will be pretty good but some of the fairways are a little bit rough.” Swisher said. “There is construction in the middle of (some) fairways so that there’s some mud in the middle of the fairways.

“If the ball hits the mud, that’s ground under construction and you just pick it up. _ Ground under repair is anything they’re repairing you just take it out with no penalty laterally no closer to the hole.”

Additionally, Sedalia will not have a practice green for players to warm up on and test green conditions because of construction. Sand traps will be classified as “rake and play” allowing players to rake the sand and move their ball in the sand trap.

Bruins coach Doug Daniels said players will have to put it out of their minds.

“I don’t care if it’s the middle of a corn field,” Daniels said. “You’ve got a tee at one end and a hole at the other. The object is to get it in the hole in less shots. End of story.”

Rock Bridge’s Jay Rader agreed with his coach.

“We’ve got to go out and just play our usual game,” Rader said. “We haven’t been playing as well as everybody would like, but we’ve been playing all right.”

“If we can get it together tomorrow, we can maybe sneak into state. But it will be a challenge.”

Rader, Jeff Pope and Thomas Schuenemeyer go into the tournament as the Bruins’ top players, but Andrew Ducharme has come on strong recently. He medaled last week against Hannibal.

Hickman’s Josh Brady and D.J. Chung will try to make it to their third straight state tournament and lead the Kewpies to their second consecutive as a team.

Last year, Hickman won the district title, edging Helias, which defeated the Kewpies five times during the season.

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