BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: Sandburg gets head start on senior season
The start of the 2014 high school golf season is hardly around the corner, but Drew Sandburg is already hard at work in preparation for his final season at Tonganoxie High.
Sandburg, an incoming THS senior with three years of varsity experience, has spent a good portion of his summer on the links as a member of the Kansas Junior Golf Association. The Chieftains’ most experienced golfer has already played in five tournaments, giving himself the chance to fine-tune his game against some of the state’s top players.
“The competition is definitely better,” Sandburg said. “I’ve seen some 4A and 5A faces that I’ve seen for a while, but I’ve seen some kids that I didn’t get to see during our season at Tongie. It’s just nice to see some faces other than you see year-round at school.”
Sandburg opened his summer slate June 3-4 at the Heartland Junior Amateur at Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club in Overland Park. He tied for 17th overall at the two-round tournament with an 11-over par 158. Just one day later, he enjoyed arguably his best outing of the summer in the same town, tying for seventh overall and sixth in his age division with a 4-over 75 at a KJGA sectional tournament at St. Andrews Golf Course.
His scores remained in the mid-70s and low 80s throughout the rest of his June schedule, which included the Kansas Junior Amateur in Winfield and another KJGA sectional in Lansing.
“Putting together a good summer schedule is key to competing at a high level,” THS coach Jared Jackson said. “You’re competing against the best kids in the state in all classes. That’s pretty neat for (Sandburg) to kind of get out of his comfort zone. I’m glad that he put together a good, competitive schedule, and I think he’s having a solid summer.”
Sandburg opened the current month with a sub-80 performance, tying for 39th with a 7-over 79 at the Kansas Amateur Qualifier July at Basehor’s Falcon Lakes Golf Course. He’s currently competing in the Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic at Topeka Country Club. He shot an 80 in Monday’s opening round, leaving him in a tie for 35th place, and will wrap up the two-round tournament with 18 holes today.
Many KJGA tournaments are played on more challenging courses than golfers normally see during a high school season. Sandburg admitted the increased levels of difficulty, as well as some inclement weather, have taken an occasional toll on his results this summer.
The summer grind will continue Friday when Sandburg plays in a non-KJGA sponsored college recruiter tournament at Drumm Farm Golf Club in Independence, Mo. Players will cover 36 holes in one day — a task rarely faced at the high school level.
“I’ve just got to fight through everything that comes my way,” he said. “Thirty-six holes is a lot longer day than what we do in high school, and it’s going to be hot.”
Sandburg will wrap up his summer schedule alongside his father, THS assistant coach Doug Sandburg, at a father-son tournament Aug. 5-6 at Lawrence Country Club.
Once the school year begins, Sandburg’s focus will shift from improving his individual game to developing his skills at the team’s leader. He is the lone remaining piece from THS teams that won two Kaw Valley League titles and a regional title in 2011 and 2012, and he has the opportunity to graduate as a four-time state qualifier. However, Jackson, who likened Sandburg’s situation to that of 2012 grad and individual state champ Colby Yates, hopes his most veteran returner will use the the months preceding his final season to help prepare his less experienced teammates for varsity competition.
“I think the summer is a lot about competing, then the fall is the best time to get in the rounds of practice,” Jackson said. “That’s when he’ll need to develop into a leader, so that will be the next step for him individually. We can’t coach the kids once the school year starts, so that goes to your team leader. I expect Drew to carry onto the younger kids what Colby did for him. It’s just about carrying on that tradition.”
Drew Sandburg’s summer golf schedule
Date — Tournament (venue), Score (overall finish)
June 3-4 — Heartland Junior Amateur (Meadowbrook CC, Overland Park), 158 (Tie for 17th)
June 5 — KJGA sectional (St. Andrews GC, Overland Park), 75 (Tie for 7th)
June 10-13 — Kansas Junior Amateur (Quail Ridge GC, Winfield), 237 (Tie for 33rd)
June 18 — KJGA sectional (Leavenworth CC, Lansing), 81 (Tie for 26th)
July 2 — Kansas Amateur Qualifier (Falcon Lakes GC, Basehor), 79 (Tie for 39th)
July 8-9 — Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic (Topeka CC), 80 (Tie for 35th)*
July 12 — College recruiter tournament (Drumm Farm GC, Independence, Mo.)
Aug. 5-6 — Father-son tournament (Lawrence CC)
*Score after first round. Second round will be played today.