With two tournaments under its belt, the Manhattan High boys’ golf team hasn’t dealt with particularly harsh weather conditions on tournament days, at least until today.
The Indians were poised to host the Manhattan Invitational at the Manhattan Country Club, but snowy conditions, paired with blustery winds and cold temperatures forced a postponement. MHS athletic director Mike Marsh didn’t have a makeup date in place by late Monday morning.
Instead of hosting their annual invite, the Indians will likely spend the afternoon working on their game indoors somewhere, as the veteran squad looks to return to state and make a bigger splash if they can get there.
Led by seniors David Woods and Scott Woods, Manhattan’s once-young group of five players that also includes juniors Pierson McAtee, Cole Dillon and Drew Casper, are now in their third season of playing varsity golf together, giving them an experience edge over almost any team they will face in the state. Throw in junior Dylan Gros, who replaces Drew Kohlmeier in the varsity lineup, and the Indians once again will field a complete team.
“Every year of experience is going to give these guys an advantage,” Manhattan head coach Brad Ficke said. “The nerves are easier to contain, there’s no surprises. As far as coaching goes, it makes it easy for everybody. I’ve seen them play, I know what to expect, I know their strengths, I know where they struggle. And they know what to expect from me, most of the time.
“It takes the pressure off everything.”
Ficke said the team has seen every course they’ll play at this season with the exception of the Derby Country Club, its regional destination. Even the state tournament site is familiar, with Class 6A playing at the Topeka Country Club.
Ficke said the expectations remain high after back-to-back state appearances, each ending in a seventh-place finish.
“Our goal is this year is to play to our potential,” he said. “I feel like we can be competitive at state if we do that. These guys will easily admit that we didn’t do that last year. We made state, but to place in the bottom half two years in a row, knowing what we’re capable of, especially two years ago when we won the regional with a really good score.
“That’s our goal. I’m not going to say first, second or whatever. But if we play to our potential, I think we can be pretty dangerous.”
Despite competing in a sport comprised of individual performances, Scott Woods said the team’s camaraderie plays a role in the team’s performance.
“You’re playing individually, but you’re also a team,” he said. “I think team chemistry does help, a little bit.”
David Woods said the group needs to get over the hump mentally if it hopes to compete amongst the best in the state.
“For us, it’s just the mental aspect,” he said. “We need to be there mentally and have our confidence and tell ourselves that we can do it. We know we can, we just have to show it. Being consistent in golf is obviously very tough. We have to practice a lot, stay confident with our swing, trust our swing and be as confident as we can.”
Ficke said consistency and game management is the key for this group.
“We need to manage our shots, that’s going to be the biggest thing, especially with putting,” he said. “These guys need to avoid the three-putts and be consistent getting up and down, lagging up close and getting that par-putt down instead of a silly bogey. That will be the difference.”
With today’s meet postponed, Manhattan’s next scheduled meet is at Topeka High on April 21.