Return three starters from last year's team
The Boonville Pirates golf team may have been the best untold story of the 2016 season.
With just five golfers on the team last year under head coach Rob VanderLinden, all the Pirates did was finish the season with a overall record of 3-3 and conference mark of 3-1.
So the question is, what gives for the 2017 season?
If you ask VanderLinden, he said so far so good.
“The kids are energectic and ready to play,” VanderLinden said. “This is the first year that when I get here they have finished their warmups and ready to play. I’m excited about the future of Boonville golf. I’m disappointed about a couple of kids who didn’t come out but excited about the kids we have. We’re going to win some matches and we are going to lose some matches.”
Spoken like a true coach. However with seven golfers suited out for the 2017 season, three of which are returning, the Pirate golfers should be in a better place after finishing fifth in the conference tournament last year.
Of course standing in Boonville’s way to move up the ladder in the NCMC this season are Hannibal, Kirksville and Marshall. VanderLinden said Hannibal will be at the top again while Marshall will be either second or third. Kirksville will also be back, VanderLinden said.
“I think the conference as a whole will be down from a couple of years ago,” VanderLinden said. “Like I said I think Hannibal will be at the top but they don’t have the strength like they did a couple of years ago. Again, I think we will be in the middle of the pack. We may not have the numbers but these kids are willing to practice and get better. The biggest drawback that I can see is our lack of consistency. Each one of these kids can get 1-2 pars, we are just trying to get them 4-5. Our goal is to move up to the top three in conference but it’s all about practice. With golf it’s all about practice and hitting a lot of golf balls.”
Of course that’s no problem for junior Thomas Simmons. While playing the No. 1 position last year, Simmons earned both all-conference and all-district honors for the Pirates.
VanderLinden said Simmons is in a battle with junior golfer Reece Lang. “First of all, Thomas has really spent a lot of time improving his game,” VanderLinden said. “Our goal for him is to get him to state. As far as Reece, he has been a welcome surprise. This is his first year of competitive golf but he wants to get better. I think last weekend he played something like 36 holes of golf. He is also a dual sport athlete, which means he is going back and forth with baseball as well.”
Freshman Jake Horst has also cracked the starting lineup as a first year golfer. Like Lang, VanderLinden said Horst has no competitive experience but has been at the course the last two years working on his game.
Vying for the final two spots in the lineup are sophomores Adam Schneringer and Cole Corbitt.
VanderLinden said both are returning golfers from last year and both are hitting the ball better than last year but just need to get consistent from hole to hole.
Other newcomers this year for the Boonville Pirates golf team are freshmen Brayden Page and Grady Baker.
VanderLinden said both golfers are new to the program and both have improved since the first day of practice. “Right now because we will be missing a couple of golfers for the first meet, Brayden and Grady will be playing varsity for the first match against Fulton and Blair Oaks,” VanderLinden said.