by John Unrein
It is hard to imagine a better way to return from spring break than hitting the links. Overcast skies and 65 degrees greeted the 18 high school teams participating in the Independence Invitational on March 22nd at Drumm Farm Golf Course. The Grain Valley Eagles boys golf team under the leadership of head coach Andy Herbert looked to build on their early season success. Herbert’s squad had already won the Oak Grove Invitational on March 19th at Adams Point Golf Course, with Sophomore Owen Herbert (77 for the round) as the individual champion and Freshman Charlie Aldred (83 for the round) as the runner-up.
Both golf courses the Eagles competed on recently have beautiful views and unique layouts. The major difference between the two is that the Drumm Farm Course is more open with less wooded areas. This affords daring golfers to be more aggressive in their club and shot selection. The potential reward is an opportunity to putt for a birdie or par due to the golf ball not being trapped in leaves or between trees along the fairway. That approach was capitalized on by both Herbert and Aldred during the Independence Invitational.
“Last week the forecast said it was going to rain today and we were not sure if we would get to play. We got to miss school and enjoy this weather,” Owen Herbert said.
“This course at Drumm Farm is more attackable due to its openness in places and can lead to lower scores in my opinion. I love the greens at Adams Pointe. Both courses offer a fair test to golfers.”
Aldred added, “This course (at Drumm Farm) fits my game better. I like to hit the ball long and that means it will not always go straight. You must take advantage of the par fives and go for birdies. You may not always be on the fairways, but you will have a hittable second shot.”
Grain Valley would go on to finish 7th place with a team score of 352 across 18 holes at the Independence Invitational. The Eagles would accumulate three golfers with a score of 90 or less. Owen Herbert would tie for 8th place with a score of 78, Aldred would tie for 11th place with a score of 79, and Connor Nadeau would round out the trio with a score of 87.
The wet conditions over the past weeks have led to a Grain Valley squad that has not been able to practice as much as they would like. A growth mindset in golf for the Eagles means that improved scores over time is how both Herbert and Aldred indicated they will measure success as the season progresses. Putting is another facet of the game that each feel is overlooked and can shave points off a score if given the necessary attention.
The commitment needed to be successful at the high school level in golf is something not lost on Herbert as he leads his team conducting multiple roles.
“There is a lot that goes into to being a successful golfer. You cannot escape the offseason commitment. Hot summer days and cold winter afternoons are what is needed to maintain consistency and push for growth,” Andy Herbert said.
“Most people can’t buy a ticket and come watch these events, so you don’t get to appreciate how good some of these kids are.”
“Building relationships with the kids is priority one. That lets you know what each one needs as this is a sport that tests mental toughness. On the basketball court, you are worried about what the team needs to stay together. You have to know the kid as an individual to see what they may need prescribed to help their golf game.”
Andy Herbert concluded, “We have established where we are at the outset of the season. We were 353 (at Oak Grove) and today we were 352 (at Independence Invitational). Now we will start to attack the full swing or short game for each golfer as needed to find growth. That will allow us to remain consistent and push ahead to where we want to be come April.”