Kyle Kovar had a familiar feeling walking into the clubhouse at gusty LA Nickell Golf Course on Wednesday.
Kovar, a junior on the Hickman golf team, grew up playing this course.
“I probably started playing here when I was 5 years old or so,” Kovar said. “I played with my dad and older brother. My brother use to play at Hickman. He worked here and then I worked here, too.”
Kovar’s vast experience with the course was a factor Wednesday against Rock Bridge, Mexico and Montgomery County.
Kovar’s 1-under 34 tied for Hickman’s low round with teammate D.J. Chung and Hickman bested the field by 17 strokes. Kovar made birdies on the second and ninth holes, and saved par on the fourth hole with a 35-foot par putt.
LA Nickell is where Rock Bridge plays its home meets but Hickman plays at Lake of the Woods; so Kovar doesn’t play at LA Nickell as often. He said he still likes returning to play where he has some of his favorite memories.
Kovar worked at LA Nickell last summer and has fond memories of working in the clubhouse where he spent time with his grandfather.
“Just being here in the morning and opening, there’s always about five or six older gentlemen who come in and play cards every day,” Kovar said. “My grandpa is one of them and so I knew all of them and grew up talking to all of them. It was always nice coming out here and seeing them.”
His favorite memory on the course came last season on the 11th hole.
“I got a hole in one on 11 last year,” Kovar said. “So when you step up to the 11th tee you can say ‘you know guys I’ve hit a hole-in-one here, this hole’s not that big a deal.’”
Kovar said working at the course helped him understand it.
“When I worked here it was neat to be here and drive around the course all the time early in the morning or late at night,” Kovar said. “Playing all the time you get to figure out what the greens do and everything. It helps out a lot, you know, knowing where to put the ball and where not to put the ball.”
Hickman coach Clark Swisher said he is proud of how Kovar has matured in his three years at Hickman.
“He obviously has a lot of experience here, but his game has improved,” Swisher said. “He broke into the starting lineup as a freshman. His game has steadily gotten stronger and he’s level-headed and he has high goals for himself. He knows how to adjust his game. A lot of kids at this age get down on themselves when they hit bad shots, but he has learned to stay focused.”
After his round Wednesday, Kovar entered the familiar clubhouse and smiled as he looked at his scorecard. Glad to be out of the wind, he said he looked forward to doing better next time on the course. Just like he is used to, but on a day with less wind.
“I probably played the course a couple hundred times at least,” Kovar said. “Sometimes you go to courses and you don’t know where or what to hit. But because I’ve played here so many times that even on blind shots I don’t have to worry about where it’s going to go.
“Lake of the Woods is a nicer course because it challenges me more, but it’s always nice playing somewhere your very familiar with.”