High school golfers from throughout the state met in Columbia on Monday to compete in the Columbia Classic. Hickman and Rock Bridge host this annual tournament.
The medalist of the Columbia Classic was Hickman senior Kyle Kovar, who shot a 73. The runner-up was cross-town rival, Rock Bridge senior Landon Willett, who finished at 74.
“Today, it was really windy and the greens were in bad shape,” Kovar said. “The hardest thing in golf, though, is the mental part.”
Defending state champion Rockhurst High School won the team competition, collectively shooting a 289. Hickman took second place with a 294.
Hickman continued the success of the 2005 season when it finished third at state. The key to the Kewpies win was perseverance.
“We have been harping that you control the things you can,” Hickman coach Clark Swisher said. “Once a shot has happened, you cannot get it back, so you just move on.”
Rock Bridge finished in fourth place. It has several young players, but rather than focusing on age, Rock Bridge coach Doug Daniels concerns himself more with golf experience.
“Playing well is more about golf experience and muscle memory, where you have performed the motion so often that you can do it very well,” Daniels said. “Just like how a basketball player gets better by taking more shots.”
While sitting in the clubhouse at A.L. Gustin Golf Course at the conclusion of the tournament, the two host coaches already began discussions about next year’s tournament and the possibility of changing the format to that of a regular tournament.
Currently the tournament breaks down into three different formats. Two athletes play in the individual rounds, where a golfer counts every shot they take and does not use their teammate’s shots. Two more play scramble, while two others play in a best ball format. Normally tournaments are played only in the individual style, where five golfers each hit nine rounds and the scores add up for a team score.
They discussed polling all the coaches of the participating teams for input.
While Daniels felt that the present tournament does not give an accurate representation of his golfers, Swisher appreciates its advantages.
“In this kind of a tournament, I can see six golfers compete for the team, rather than five,” Swisher said.
Swisher said that because the tournament is so early in the season, and because of its format, it is a good way to get an early look at his own team.
“It is a precursor to districts, and it gives us an early barometer on how we are as a team,” he said.
Daniels disagreed with that idea. He feels that the format does not help him find that fifth man for his team.
“Scramble does not allow you to see how good someone is playing by its nature because a golfer can have a bad shot, but it does not effect the scoring,” Daniels said.
Despite their disagreements, the two coaches agreed that the tournament finished successfully.
“This is a great tournament for the city, and we always see great competition,” Swisher said. “Rockhurst, Chaminade, and Desmet are always good, and we like to play them in this early tournament.”