New season, same expectations for boys golf

Deep in their season, golfers looking for consistency while staying excited, motivated

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Varsity golfer Griffin Pohl’ 21 takes some shots on at the fairway at a practice. (Tiernan Kelly/TAB)

Max Dike, Sports Editor

While the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the look of many sports at both the amateur and professional levels, some have been able to withstand the virus’s devastating effect on the athletic landscape. Boys golf at LT is one example of these survivors, and despite some changes, the season is opening with much of the same excitement as in past years. 

“I want to just go out and play for fun with some of my friends,” Griffin Pohl ‘21 said. “I think what I’ve learned most throughout this pandemic is that your world could be turned upside down at the drop of a hat, so you have to make the most out of every moment.” 

Golf for both boys and girls was the first sport to return to high school athletes on Aug. 11. Since then, players and coaches have had to adjust to all of the new safety requirements, Pohl said. But while temperature checks and masks have been tough on their own, the biggest change so far has been coming together as a team, he said. 

“I think mainly the challenge has been trying to create a bond with the younger players that I haven’t gotten a chance to play with,” Pohl said. “The team is very social and has found a way to make it through a time in which social interactions have been hindered by the virus.” 

On the course, it’s been an up and down season thus far, Callum Mitchell ‘21 said. A disappointing finish at a tournament with Hinsdale Central, York and Glenbard West has marred the early part of the season, but the team is motivated and still in good spirits, Mitchell said.

“It’s still early in the season,” he said. “We know we are capable of playing better golf than we have so far.” 

The team shot a total score of 300 at the tournament back on Aug. 29, tied with Glenbard West for third and six strokes back of York who won the tournament. While it was a solid effort, the team is going to have to step it up a notch or two if they want to succeed in the future, varsity head coach Brian Kopecky said. 

“The team knows we have the talent to shoot low scores.  We just have to do it when the lights are on bright,” he said.

The athletes spent time over the shutdown and the summer developing that talent. Pohl, for example, spent three days a week for 12 weeks working out with a certified golf and fitness trainer and played golf almost every day over the shutdown, he said. Mitchell took part in several tournaments with youth organizations like the Illinois Junior Golf Association and Mid-American Junior Golf Tour, he said. 

One thing that the athletes will not have to prepare for this year is the state tournament, usually held in October, Kopecky said. The IHSA has decided that with the pandemic, it would be too much of a risk to bring athletes from all over the state together, he said. 

A state meet would be great, but right now that is not an option,” he said. “[We] hope it changes.” 

With no state event, the conference tournament is tentatively scheduled as the team’s culminating event for the season. There are only six spots available if the athletes want to play at conference, Kopecky said and the athletes are highly motivated to get those spots.

“Still working on who will be in the top six,” he said.” [We’re] looking forward to the West Suburban Conference tourney; [we] want to win that. Players want to be in the top six.”

Regardless of what happens to the state and conference tournaments, the athletes are thankful for whatever amount of golf they get to play this year, Mitchell said.

“I’m just glad we are able to have a season [and] that I’ll be able to play,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully they will allow for some sort of state tournament that we will be able to compete in.”