Freshman numbers excite golf coach in second year
Tonganoxie High is settling in for Round 2.
A year after the inaugural Chieftain golf team stepped on the greens, Tonganoxie gets set for a second season under coach Darren Neas.
The Chieftains evolve into this year's campaign going through some growing pains. The Chieftains never finished high in team scoring last season, but Neas has an eager eye on this year's team.
"I'm cautiously optimistic about some of the new kids out and I think we're going to be improved over last year," Neas said.
THS lost Bryan Gurss and Thomas Gilner to graduation, but return this year's leading golfer Mat Overbaugh, along with Cody Owsley. Top newcomers include Luke Brown, Cody Sims and Adam Reetz.
This season, coordinating course times again has been something to work through. Without a home course, the Chieftains are limited in some ways. Half of the team hits at one course as the other golfers practice at another nearby course.
"We still have those problems where courses aren't available in that they are for other kids," Neas said. "I think we're going to fight that battle for a while."
A golf course in Tonganoxie has been discussed, even on the 80-acre tract of land on Tonganoxie's south side.
Neas said he has brought that idea up.
"Schools aren't in the business of entrepreneurship," Neas said. "There are always people who talk about it, but they also talk about that there are five of them within 20 minutes so why do we need one?
"And that's probably true to some extent."
Neas said that a few golf courses nearby are trying to keep their heads above water as well.
Even if golfers have to travel to practice, Neas said his program is making progress with youth. THS will have six freshmen out and younger golfers are getting started through the Tonganoxie Junior Golf Club. A free youth golf clinic for ages 6-16 through the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission also is available in the summer.
"I'm very happy about more kids seeming to be more interested in trying it," Neas said about the sport.
THS opens the season at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sunflower Hills in Bonner Springs.
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