Polson High School boys golf coach Bill Owen is always putting an emphasis on the competitive dynamics not just against their opponent, but with his own team.
Last year, the competitive fire displayed between Matt Hobbs and Carson McDaniel elevated both players and ultimately helped the golf team be highly competitive.
McDaniels, who is now beginning his fall season as a member of the University of South Dakota Mines & Technology, has graduated. Hobbs has taken the reigns as the Pirates’ No. 1 golfer but he is getting competition from No. 2 player Trey Kelley, who continues to apply pressure with each match.
“They just want to beat each other and Carson was a great example in terms of holding the thing together,” Owen said. “Carson was a lot of help towards Hobb’s mental development. In golf, that is a big part of our game is where your head is at and Carson was a good mentor to him when those two were together.”
Hobbs, who has bested Kelley by only a couple of strokes in most of the team’s recent matches, continues to work to solidify his place as the the Pirates’ top-shelf golfer.
Hobbs was bested by Kelley by one stroke at the Whitefish Invitational. Hobbs fired a 77 and Kelley fired a 76.
Hobbs didn’t stop there. He captured first place at Canyon River shooting a 75 and first place at the Missoula Country Club blasting a 72.
The Pirates fired a team total of 316 at Whitefish, which was good enough to place second.
“We were there on Wednesday and we had one of the best team scores since the boys won a state title I think back in 1995,” Owen said. “That was quite a ways back and they scored right there with that team. I was really pleased with how they performed.”
Pirates’ freshman Jeff Devlin provided support to back Kelley and Hobbs’ performance and finished with a 104, a score Owen stated is a solid performance for a freshman.
Though Owen has stated he is “pleased” with the team’s performance, he knows golf is a long and competitive season in his conference.
“You never know how things might progress and I see that we have the capability which is pretty exciting,” Owen said. “You just can’t rest on your laurels. Golf is an up and down thing. I like the fact that we know that we can play golf and actually get good results.”
At Whitefish, the boys were by led by Trey Kelley, who fired a 76, Matt Hobbs fired a 77, Calvin Nowlen fired an 81 and Colby Devlin finished with 82, as well as Jeff Devlin finishing the round with a 104.
Hobbs finished with a 72 and 75 at Missoula and Canyon. Trey Kelley shot a 76 and 84, and Devlin shot an 89 and 86. Nowlen shot an 86 and 96 and Devlin shot a 95 and 96.
“I was excited to be right up there at the top and their team scores were right up just behind Missoula Sentinel going into the second day of the tournament,” Owen said. “We were only eight strokes away from Hamilton. We had some other pretty good competition in the conference between us and Libby. Hamilton is our biggest rival and you can’t count anyone out in divisionals.”
Lady Pirates show progress
For the first time in a while, Owen has five girls he can score as a team, instead of four like he had in previous years.
“The girls are very close and I feel the girls will continue to progress during the season,” Owen said. “They are really working at it and they have a purpose. They are fun to watch. All of them go at it in practice. I like when they push each other.”
This number has allowed Owen to encourage more competition amongst his girls as they continue to improve during the course of the season.
The girls shot a cumulative total of 415 at Whitefish and 439 at the Missoula Country Club and Caynon River Monday and Tuesday.
Lady Pirates No. 1 golfer Cali Cannon finished sixth at the Whitefish Invitational. Amanda Farley shot a 104, Esme Yarbrough fired a 105, Ellie Thiel had a 111 and Katelyne Druyvestein shot a 131.
At Missoula and Caynon River, Cannon shot an 84 the first day and 93 the second day to finish fifth. Farley shot a 105 the first day and a 99 the second day, Esme Yarbrough shot a 123 the first day and a 108 the second day, Ellie Thiel had a 123 and 108 and Druyvestein had a 127 and 139. The girls cumulative total was 439 on the day.
“We only sent four of them to Missoula and they really didn’t do too bad,” Owen said. “We had our fourth girl at Missoula Country Club and she shot a 127 and 139 at Canyon and is continuing to improve.”