By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
The sun broke through the clouds above Fall Creek Golf Club on Monday as the Pendleton Heights Arabians defended their home course by besting the Anderson Indians 138-172.
The Arabians continue gaining momentum heading into Saturday’s Madison County tournament, as they improved to 2-0 at home and 4-0 overall in dual match events.
Home court or home field advantage is touted as being important to the success of many teams, but there may not be a bigger advantage than playing on a golf team’s home course.
“Anytime you are comfortable playing a golf course, it makes you that much better,” PH coach Jim Phillips said. “It makes you more comfortable with your putting because you can be more aggressive since you know where the breaks are.”
Knowing the various breaks on the green can be invaluable when it comes down to sinking a putt or having it lip out. Anderson coach Bob Windlan is looking forward to having a bit of the same advantage that PH had against the Indians.
“I will tell you this, I am glad we are playing at Edgewood (on) Saturday,” Windlan said. “I think familiarity with a golf course is huge. I watched the Pendleton kids putt better than us because they know the greens better.”
PH junior Colin Proctor used the advantage of knowing the greens to secure the low round of the day with a 31, three strokes better than teammate Trevor Denney.
“He is capable of shooting that number every time, but we have not seen that yet from him this year,” Phillips said. “I knew it was going to come. He is such an outstanding talent and has been since he was a little kid.”
Proctor got out to a fast start by carding birdies on his first two holes. He completed his nine-hole round with three additional birdies.
“When you bury the first two holes here and then you have No. 3 and 4 coming up, that is always a good feeling,” Proctor said. “Three can be an eagle hole if you hit two good shots, and four — if you hit a good tee shot — can be an eagle hole. They are both definitely birdie holes.”
Despite Edgewood not being PH’s home course, it might be considered Proctor’s home course because of its proximity to his house.
“Any short course helps me because I can hit 2-iron when other people are hitting their driver,” he said. “I have been playing Edgewood since I was 6 years old. It is within walking distance of my house.”
Proctor is one of four Arabians who have secured a spot on Phillips’ five-man county tournament roster. Four others are vying for that final spot, including sophomore Zach Farrer.
“Zach is consistent and keeps it in play,” Phillips said. “He doesn’t get up or down too much if he is playing good or bad. He always has a positive attitude, and that is key in golf.”
Farrer has the golf gene in his blood. His father, Mike, is the golf pro/owner of Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield Golf Course.
“Zach grew up around golf and understands you don’t have to be the longest person,” Phillips said. “You just have to keep it in play and put it in the hole.”
His 35-stroke total did not factor into the final team score since he was competing in the Arabians’ sixth spot and only the top five golfers’ scores were calculated. It was the team’s third lowest.
“My confidence boosted today, and I was pleased with the way I played,” Farrer said. “I played well and hope I can keep this momentum.”
Jacob Gray carded the low score for Anderson with a 40. Windlan was pleased with Gray as well as the overall improvement of the Indians early in this season.
“I thought our guys from tee to green hit it better than before,” Windlan said. “That is our lowest score of the year, but it has also been the best weather we have got to play in all year.”
Golf is more than just swinging a club at a ball. The United States Golf Association, the governing body for golf, places a heavy emphasis on the importance of proper etiquette while on the course. As one of Anderson’s golfers was turning in scorecards to Phillips, he complimented the Arabians not only for their golf talents but also how they handled themselves on the course.
“That comment coming from that young man probably meant more to me than winning the match,” Phillips said. “I hope all my guys understand that etiquette is huge. Yes, you have to play well, but (etiquette) is a big part of it. We stress that, and when that is recognized by another kid, it makes you feel good.”