SHERIDAN — Golf is a sport that is more of a mental game than a physical game. Each tournament presents a new course with new mental challenges for players to think through. Becoming familiar with and understanding the challenges a course posses saves a player strokes on the scorecard. Sheridan High School’s golf teams are traveling to Gillette to compete for a state title, and players have been focusing on their mental games in preparation.
The course hosting the 4A tournament is Bell Nob Golf Course roughly an hour and a half away, a short drive compared to many other teams around the state.
With Bell Nob being a shorter drive for the Broncs than most other teams, Sheridan practiced at the course two weekends ago, trying to become familiar with the course. Other players have recently returned to the course, trying to learn the ins and outs of the course. Detmer played the course two additional times during the season.
“Now I am comfortable and know where some good spots are to aim,” Detmer said. “I have some advantage over other teams and players.”
Junior Brayden James played at Bell Nob this past weekend, gaining familiarity with the course.
“It can give you five extra strokes if you do not know the course,” James said. “Just by knowing a couple of yardages or where to hit the ball on some holes can really help you.”
SHS head coach Kaelee Saner said Bell Nob was well maintained and the greens are very fast because of the maintenance. The speed and overall size of the greens make shot placement very important for this weekend.
A ball placed above the hole will make the speed harder to control and leaves the potential for the ball to roll off the green. Landing too far away from the hole leaves long puts, possibly adding strokes to scores.
To help train for the course, Sheridan focused on chipping and putting during the week. Saner said Sheridan needs to play smart golf and not get into any bad situations. The course is very open with few hazards and obstacles in the way between the tee box and the green. If Sheridan can remain consistent, then both teams will be successful.
Saner said she has seen players improve in consistency and golf IQ each week. This improvement will hopefully peak at the state tournament.
“Last year we were all over the place; this year we have a good shot placing in the top three,” said senior Hannah Detmer. “Hopefully, we can pull out one of the top spots.”
Saner said it is a goal for the girls team to finish in the top three, something the team has done multiple times against tough competition this season. Standout freshman Samantha Spielman tied for first place at the Casper Invite, the most recent tournament. A strong finish plus improved play from the Lady Broncs gives the team confidence heading into the tournament.
Thursday, the team plays a practice round at Bell Nob along with 12 other teams competing at state.
In the state tournament, a few strokes for each person on the team can make a big difference.
“It is incredibly important, especially for team scores,” James said. “Usually, the top five teams are within 20 or 25 strokes of each other. If all of us can score three to five strokes better, it can make a huge difference in our placing.”
The Broncs look to use this advantage to finish in the top five, a goal James sees as a very real possibility for the team.
“I am feeling confident, and as a team I feel like we have a pretty good shot,” James said. “A lot of us have played there before and know what to expect.”
Saner said both teams are young, but improvement by all members of the team puts Sheridan in great position to place well in the tournament.
Teams start competition on the morning of Sept. 20 and will play the second round Sept. 21. The champions will be decided by 36 holes of golf.