Practices a journey for golfers
The Tonganoxie High School golf team won't enjoy any home-course advantages when its inaugural season starts April 4, but the Chieftains are trying to get acquainted with area courses.
THS, entering its first season with a golf program, doesn't have a home golf course.
The team was originally planning to practice on a course once a week and on school district property southeast of Pleasant and Washington streets the rest of the week.
But the team hasn't practiced at the school site yet. The Chieftains practice at Sunflower Hills near Bonner Springs twice a week, The Oaks near Leavenworth once a week and Dub's Dread near Lansing once a week. Golf meets are usually on Mondays, so when the team's not competing, the Chieftains have driving practice at Sunflower Hills.
Although the team now spends more time on public courses, THS coach Darren Neas said the program hasn't had problems with additional expenses.
"Our budget's pretty modest, and we're staying well under that," Neas said.
THS athletics director John Lee said increased gate receipts at football and basketball games helped generate more money for the athletics department's budget, which in turn allows more funds for the golf team. Lee also said Neas helped his own cause with comparing golf courses.
"Darren really shopped around to find the best rates," Lee said.
The team practices at Sunflower Hills twice a week the entire season for $400. At Dub's Dread and The Oaks, there is no charge, although Dub's Dread will be under new management soon and Neas is unsure how that will affect rates there.
Team members car pool to practices, which keeps costs down as well.
Neas would prefer having a home course, but he knows many other schools are in the same cart. Piper, Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood, De Soto, Sumner Academy and other Kansas City area schools also use Sunflower Hills.
"That is difficult no matter where you go," Neas said about finding a course to practice on.
The timing usually works well, though, because Tonganoxie golfers get to the course after other schools have already teed off.
The team has gotten off to a good start, Neas said, even if team members must travel a little bit to get in some practice.
"It's been pretty fun actually," Neas said.
The team opens the season April 6 in the Sunflower Classic at Sunflower Hills.