When the Wooster Generals traveled west to Mohican Hills Golf Course for their practice round prior to the annual Ohio Cardinal Conference postseason tournament, it was much more than a day to go hit it around.
According to head coach Mark Snowbarger, a number of the players took a detailed look at the layout of the course, and soaked in anything they could about the course and its nuances.
They learned where trouble lies, where they could go for the green and when they should lay up and avoid big numbers.
They went to school, then a day later they went to work on the rest of the conference, firing a most-impressive 302 en route to defeating runner-up Ashland by 10 strokes.
While the Arrows did pull out the conference title on the strength of the regular season, where it did not lose a match while Wooster was defeated three times, including a 159-161 loss to Ashland, the conference tournament did provide plenty of momentum for a Generals team that holds high hopes for the future as it prepares for the Div. I sectional tournament at Brookside Golf Course in Barberton Oct. 3.
“It’s a huge confidence boost for us, because it shows us that we are capable up putting up some really great numbers on a tough course when the pressure is on,” said Snowbarger.
With six players from each school participating, and the top four scores counting toward the team total, Wooster had no problem amassing some incredible numbers.
On the day, 10 players scored under 80, and five of them were from Wooster. The Generals were led by medalist Brent Dillon, who fashioned a 73 to top two-time defending OCC champion Beau Bayerls of Ashland, who shot a two-over par 74. That 74 was matched from an unlikely source in Wooster five-man Austin Meese.
Snowbarger said Meese has been coming on as of late, but he never expected that kind of showing from a player who is just now starting to put it all together.
“We knew Austin had the ability, but he was still working on his course management, and so this was a pretty nice surprise,” said Snowbarger.
The Wooster head coach said that when they attended their practice round, the one thing that stood out to him the most was the way Dillon, Meese and freshman Mason Frazier, who shot a 77, soaked in everything they could about the course. That included understanding where they absolutely had to keep the ball under the hole, since Mohican is a course with slick, undulating greens where three-putts and worse can destroy scores.
“Those three guys really listened and learned while we were here,” said Snowbarger. “To have three young men like that who are willing to listen that well is not all that common.”
Snowbarger said he was not shocked in the slightest by Dillon’s medalist performance, then backtracked a bit, considering it was two-time OCC champion Bayerls whom he had beaten for the honor.
But he said Dillon is so steady and consistent with his play that he never gets rattled and always puts up a solid effort.
“Again, there is a kid who will do whatever we ask of him,” said Snowbarger. “He has an amazing work ethic, and that has been a key, along with his willingness to learn and listen.
“The head coach also said that one thing they have stressed to Dillon, Mason and Meese is that they don’t need to hit it a mile and stay with the big boys off the tee. That has been a key to the improving scores, especially for Meese and Frazier.
The great scores just kept coming for Wooster, as number one man Anthony Panepento fired off a 78, and, four-man Wesley Roberts matched that number. Brent Peabody rounded out the Wooster scores with an 89.
Posting five scores under 80 was an easy way to make sure that they put away any and all challengers.
“Shooting a 302 on that course, and beating Ashland by 10 strokes was a huge accomplishment for these guys,” said Snowbarger. “They are learning to trust themselves and believe in their games, and that is exciting to see.”
Since Ashland has been drilling teams all season, the 10-stroke victory over the Arrows only serves as a stimulant as the Generals prepare for sectionals.
Having gotten out of sectionals the past two years, Wooster has its eyes on that and a whole lot more this time around.
“As long as we continue to listen and learn, and just play our game and manage the courses we play, we have the potential to do some special things,” said Snowbarger.
With confidence sky high and a cast of talent that can obviously put up some intriguing numbers, the Generals are primed to make some noise as the tournament season begins.