Roaring forward

Wednesday, May 11, 2022
The Monett boys golf team took second place in the Class 3, District 3 Tournament in Eldon on Monday, qualifying for Boys Golf State nest week. Members include: Jaxon Bailey, Jacob Hoyt, David Southard, Clay Butterworth and Cal Butterworth. Contributed photo

Monett golf team qualifies for state

For the first time in 27 years, the Monett boys golf team will have all five of its members competing at Boys Golf State.

The Cubs shot a combined 353 at the Eldon Golf Club on Monday, 8 strikes behind winner Logan-Rogersville and tied with Springfield Catholic. Monett advanced due to a tiebreaker rule.

Individually, freshman Jaxon Bailey carried the Cubs again by shooting a 77 (+5), tying for second place with Nevada’s Owen Swearingen, but one stroke behind Harrisonville’s Caleb Verstraete. Other Monett scores were: Jacob Hoyt, 88 (+16); David Southard, 91 (+19); Clay Butterworth, 97 (+25); and Cal Butterworth, 98 (+26).

“The course was probably the toughest district tournament course I have ever seen us play on,” said Brian Cox, Monett golf coach. “It’s in good shape, but just really tough with tricky holes. When you’re not familiar, and that was the first time any of us had been there, that doesn’t help either.”

Cox said a practice round went well, and he felt confident the Cubs had a chance to advance if they played smart.

“They tried some things in that practice round and really listened well during play,” he said. “They were hitting irons off the tee on some holes, and that was just something they had to do. This was one of those courses where you really have to play the course and strategize. It’s not always about hitting it as far as you can.”

Cox said the way his team took advice to heart was no more evident than on the longest par 5 hole on the course. Bailey was the first to attempt it, somewhat surprising Cox by recording a birdie.

“I told the other boys how Jaxon played it, and they used that to their advantage,” he said. “I doubt if anyone else in the field birdied that hole. I don’t know for sure, but I bet the average score on that holes an 8 or 9. As a team, we averaged a bogey on it, and I don’t think any other school did that.

“The way the boys listened on that hole is what really got us to state.”

While the wind was whipping heavily all day, Cox said it was the heat that was a larger factor for the competitors.

“We went from playing in 50 degrees and rain to 80 degrees and sun,” he said. “The wind made play a little tougher, but if it wasn’t blowing, it would have been miserably hot. We had to keep the guys hydrated and their energy up, and that was tough. A few kids wound up dropping out because of the heat.”

One of those that did not finish was a Springfield Catholic golfer. The tiebreaker for which team went to state was whomever had the best fifth score, and with no fifth finisher for Catholic, Monett advanced by default.

The Cubs now turn their attention to Sedalia and the Sedalia Country Club, a place Cox has experience with previously.

“We’ve had state there before, and in 2017, I had a few boys qualify and play there,” he said. “The greens are very big, maybe the biggest in the state. That’s great, but it means we’ll likely have longer putts. We’ll work this week on our lag putting, just getting the ball close to the hole for two-putts instead of three-putts.”

Cox said the mental aspect will also remain key.

“We have to continue to play smart and keep the ball out of trouble,” he said.

Individually, Cox said Bailey has set a high expectation for himself.

“He expects to win,” Cox said. “He always expects to win. I think he won five of our eight tournaments this season. He’s been consistent enough to have a shot.

“And, he works for it. I bet when we got back on Monday, he went out to our course to work on some things.”

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