Last week’s 162-174 loss to Henlopen Conference Champions Sussex Tech told Indian River golf’s Head Coach Neal Beahan one thing — his guys play too tight in big matches.
No worries: the Indians would have an opportunity to rebound on their home course — Cripple Creek — against Polytech and Sussex Central.
The Indians tied their second-lowest score total of last year in a 157-160 win over Polytech last year and have already beaten the Golden Knights once this season (175-220) so that alone was enough weight off their shoulders to just go out and play golf.
The Indians scooted past Polytech 166-199 and again over Sussex Central 170-213 to improve their record to 4-1 and 3-1 in the conference.
The Indians’ matches against Polytech and Sussex Central marked the third and fourth straight contest played at their home course — Cripple Creek. Five years ago, the Delaware State Golf Association voted Cripple Creek’s eighth and ninth holes two of Delaware’s toughest holes. High school competition takes place on the front nine holes, and since Cripple Creek is a private club, Indian River has a notable experience edge.
Since competition stays on the front-nine, Indian River diligently practices those holes. But they would have to play the back-nine against the Golden Knights because the club had just aerated usual course.
“Playing the back nine was almost like an away match,” Beahan said. “It made the guys more focused and we picked up a couple of strokes. When we’re focused we do fine.”
“I think knowing that we already beat Sussex Central allowed us to relax out there and focus,” Beahan said. “We knew that we didn’t have to shoot our lowest score to win.”
Senior Craig Conover shot a team-low 37 and earned medalist honors against Sussex Central in what was his best round of the year, according to Beahan. Senior Justin Albright has been Beahan’s most consistent golfer this year and notched two 42-stroke performances against Polytech and Sussex Central to maintain his yearly average.
“He’s (Justin) been playing quite well all year and we’ve had it all year from Matt (Binsted). But I’d like to have four or five shoot the same number,” Beahan said.
Binsted earned medalist honors for his 39-stroke performance against Polytech.
In an attempt to jumpstart his team’s competitive atmosphere, Beahan will start younger players.
Beahan went with freshman Robby Webster against Sussex Central and aside from quadruple bogeying the first hole, he played well.
“I told Robby he was going to play, before the match, and even though we didn’t have a warm up because of the weather, Robby was great,” said Beahan. “He said he was nervous at first but I paired him up with Craig (Conover) instead of his brother (Richard), and he said that he’s going to be good and did quite well. If he bogied that first hole, he would’ve shaved off three strokes and had a 47. To you and me that’s a 47 and only three strokes; 45 is the cutoff that we shoot for and you can see he has the fire and wants to play.”
“I announced to my team that I would play my younger players against some of the weaker teams and they would replace those who don’t play the best,” he continued.
“Bobby Jones said golf and tournament golf are completely different and he’s right,” Beahan said. “Knowing that your score counts means everything and the more you do it — the more confidence you’ll have.”
Despite beating Polytech and Sussex Central handily, Beahan asked his players if they were satisfied and they replied, “No,” which brought a smile to their coach’s face.
“Right now we’re targeting 166 to 168, so we’re close but we’d like to be a little lower,” Beahan said. “The kids aren’t pleased yet and you have to like that.”