Panthers hope to avoid the roughs, rough weather

By Troy A. Bruzewski

Sports correspondent

Duane Wilde heard the prediction and hopes it doesn’t come true.

The Palmyra-Eagle High School boys golf coach was told by a friend that an almanac prediction for the next three months call for temperatures lower than average. That was bad news for a coach whose team was hindered by lack of course time in 2013, due to poor weather.

“I just heard that the other day and it sounds like it’s going to be a tough one, again,” Wilde said. “Hopefully it will get better, but the weather hurt us last year.”

Low temperatures and wet conditions led to the cancellation or rescheduling of nearly each event on Palmyra-Eagle’s schedule in April of last year. The lack of time on the courses hindered the progression of many young Panther golfers, those without varsity experience in particular.

Wilde said the start of last season posed the worst weather issues he’s experienced during his time not only as golf coach, but coaching any sport. He said not even the occasional nice day seemed to roll through.

“When I coached softball, we’d have two or three days of bad weather in-a-row,” Wilde said. “We’d have to stay inside and very seldom got outside.

“But when game day came, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t 65 and sunny each time. That happened another spring where every day, except the day we played, was bad. But last year didn’t even give us that,” he added.

This year’s team began practice this week and has its first competition on Friday. Though it’s not a conference event, Wilde sees this four-person scramble as a chance to shake the rust if weather permits.

“We’ve entered a scramble in Whitewater as a neat way to get out and hit the ball for nine holes,” he said. “The following Monday we’ll have our first conference event at Beloit and this will be good to give us a chance to play before that.”

The team returns to play home meets at Evergreen Golf Club in Elkhorn. Along with the home course, three golfers return in Palmyra-Eagle’s 2014 season. Paul Stark and Jacob Duffy return from last year’s varsity team and Chris Lamb comes from the JV squad. Wilde said the remainder of the roster will be filled by first-year golfers, which include two experienced in the game – Izaac Neubauer and Wilde’s grandson Devin.

“Izaac has been a member at a golf club and Devin played a lot of golf this summer,” Wilde said. “They could end up as two of my better golfers and wouldn’t be surprised if they were on the varsity lineup before it’s all said and done.”

The group is tasked with closing the gap between themselves and annual conference power Big Foot, which won the conference last year. While catching the conference’s top team would be an impressive accomplishment, Wilde will settle for decent weather in the meantime.

“We’re just at the mercy of Mother Nature,” he said. “We need to do the best with what we’re given and get in as much golf as possible.

“That’s part of the reason that Big Foot is so good, they have a lot of golfers who belong to clubs and get-in a lot of golfing throughout the year. So we want to get out there as much as we can.”

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