Golfers prepare for first season
Tonganoxie High School's inaugural golf season starts Saturday, but coach Darren Neas wouldn't mind if it started a little later.
With no home course, the Chieftains have to share area courses with other schools, and that means Tonganoxie doesn't usually get a full round of golf in after school because of the shortage of light. The Chieftains played their first full round last Wednesday, but Neas hopes that when daylight-saving time kicks in Sunday, the team will have more time to practice.
"There's not as much instruction as I would like," Neas said. "We need more time putting, chipping and at a driving range."
On the plus side, Neas said the weather has cooperated for the most part, and the Chieftains have gotten a feel for what meets will be like.
Neas said he spends a great deal of time finding a place for the Chieftains to practice, as the team rotates among area courses. But that's to be expected at the start of Tonganoxie golf team's first season.
The Chieftains' coach also begins his first stint as a golf coach, but Neas has been around golf for some time.
After getting injured in football at Central Methodist in Missouri, Neas played golf at the Heart of America Athletic Conference school his sophomore, junior and senior years. Neas lettered those final two years in 1987 and 1988. Now, he's the one instructing golfers.
"The whole golf thing is appealing to me," Neas said. "When it came up I thought it would be awesome to be a part of it."
Junior John Bretthauer is also excited about the new sport. Bretthauer was one of the main students to push for the golf program, while Tonganoxie resident Bob Norris also lobbied for the addition. Bretthauer wouldn't mind his team having a successful year, but he also enjoys the recreation the new sport created.
"I did it for kids my age to have fun," Bretthauer said.
The boys' team has 10 golfers out in its first year, and six of those will qualify as the traveling team.
At this point, Neas sees only one golfer with a secure spot senior Bryan Gurss.
"You can tell he's played," Neas said.
Other golfers are Thomas Gilner, Cody Owsley, Chase Nowak, Andy Eisman, Tyler Davidson, Brett VanDyke and Chad Turner.
Neas said the other five traveling spots will be up for grabs when the season opens at the Sunflower Classic on Saturday near Leavenworth. The invitational is expected to attract around 20 teams.
"It will be really competitive," Neas said.
Bretthauer, who has golfed for a few years now, likes the opportunity the team has to play the area courses.
"I like practice," Bretthauer said. "I get to golf for free."
The Chieftains have an 11 a.m. tee time Saturday at Sunflower Hills.