Northern’s Wicker, Riverside roll in final PAC-6 event
Northern’s Michael Wicker shot a 34 over nine holes at Croasdaile Country Club to edge PAC-6 player of the year Ben Griffin during the league’s regular-season finale on Monday.
Griffin, an East Chapel Hill junior who has committed to play golf at North Carolina, shot a 35.
“I didn’t putt well,” Griffin said. “I missed a lot of mid-length putts that I usually make to keep the round going.”
Riverside entered the match having already locked up the league title, and the 151 the Pirates shot bolstered their standing, although barely. ECH’s 152 was right behind Riverside.
The scores from the other teams bore out the league’s final standings, except for last-place Southern playing better than Hillside.
Finishing third through seventh in the PAC-6 standings was Northern, Jordan, Person, Hillside and Southern, respectively.
The nine-hole format was in accordance with a PAC-6 bylaw aimed at keeping student-athletes from missing so much class time, Riverside coach Ben Huffman said.
A common refrain on golf courses is how the game is about muscle memory, yet Huffman, the PAC-6 coach of the year, preaches short-term memory to his Pirates.
“I work between their ears,” Huffman said. “Their swings are all great. What I try to do is when they hit a bad shot is to look forward, never look behind, and sometimes just get them thinking other than golf — you know, ‘Hey, what did you eat for lunch? Hey, man, how’s your mom?’ — just to get them out of that, so when they approach the next shot, they’ve forgotten about that.”
Southern coach Van Miles said the guys on his team are new to the game, yet the 44 James Taylor shot was respectable among the rather experienced field. The Spartans should consider playing year-round in order to get better, Miles said.
“Golf is one of those sports that is muscle memory,” Miles said. “The more you do it, the better you are.”
Taylor, a sophomore, also wrestles and plays football for Southern, and he said golf is tougher than both of those sports.
“Most people think golf is just, like, taking a stick and hitting the ball,” Taylor said. “It’s way more than that.”
Hillside coach Gordon Matthewson said the Hornets could have the same sort of sting on the golf course as they do on the football field and the basketball court.
“These athletes that play basketball and football are going to have to come out for golf,” Matthewson said. “Golfers are definitely athletes, and some of these guys that play these other sports, they aren’t giving themselves a chance to maybe excel in another sport, something they can play for the rest of their lives. But they see the glamour of football and basketball.”
No players from Hillside or Southern made the all-conference team, which included ECH’s Griffin, Josh Fried and Nate Pritchard; Northern’s Wicker and Luke Perry; Riverside’s Newt Barringer, Carson Hunt, Joe Jongkind, Junior Schrickx and Alex Breese; Person’s Jesse Moore and Jordan’s Justin Avila.
ECH coach Bobby Neville said there’s a reason why Griffin is so good.
“He’ll have days when he probably hits 400 balls,” Neville said. “He works at it very hard.”
Perry said his putter has been good to him this season, and he said he will spend the summer getting to know his driver a little better.
“When I struggled, I struggled pretty bad, but when I was good, I was really good because I had a few low numbers below par,” Perry said. “I’m sure there’ll be times over the summer where I don’t play for a few days, and that’s nice sometimes. But golf, you’ve got to play. If you’re going to stay good, you’ve got to play.”
At Croasdaile CC, Par-36
Riverside 151, East Chapel Hill 152, Northern 158, Jordan 180, Person 184, Southern 212, Hillside 220.
Michael Wicker (N) 34, Ben Griffin (ECH) 35, Carson Hunt (R) 37, Newt Barringer (R) 38, Keith Sobb (R) 38, Joe Jongkind (R) 38, Luke Perry (N) 38, Josh Fried (ECH) 39, Nate Pritchard (ECH) 39, Nathan Parry (EHC) 39, Justin Avila (J) 39, Jesse Moore (P) 39.