Stillwater News Press


April 24, 2014

Pioneer golfers battle conditions, Karsten Creek

STILLWATER, Okla. — One of the state’s most difficult golf courses was taken to another level Thursday for the Class 6A State Preview, hosted by Stillwater High.

With rain showers from the night before, and high gusts during the event, Karsten Creek — home of the Oklahoma State golf programs and host of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship — bared all of its bite for the boys high school golfers in attendance.

“The course is hard enough as is, so any wind makes it just that much tougher, especially on the back nine as you get to the last three holes which is the most exposed area of the golf course,” Stillwater High senior Troy Fort said. “Then balls that you’re hitting into the fairway, you’re not getting any release and then it makes the rough even thicker because of the rain.”

According to SHS coach Larry Hesler, many of the Pioneer golfers had never played at the prestigious course before Thursday’s tournament — which he said showed on the early holes.

“It was a pretty tough. Those first six holes we should have done a lot better when we didn’t have any wind, but it’s a tough course any way,” Hesler said. “And my guys kind of let the mystique of the place get to them at the start. They were excited to get out here to play and it just kind of does that to you.”

It wasn’t until after the turn that the wind truly showed its teeth, especially on the three toughest holes on the course — Nos. 16 through 18, which surround Lake Louise.

Fort faired best of the Pioneer golfers, carding a round of 87, followed by Gabe Gudgel and Billy Childress with a 90 and 91, respectively. Marc Major finished with a 98, while Brendan Worley carded a 99 to give SHS a team score of 366.

“Now I can talk to them about remembering how that certain hole at Karsten wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be,” Hesler said. “There’s a lot of places out here where we just got ourselves into some bad spots when we didn’t need to hit the club we were hitting.”

The hope is the Pioneers will find their way back to Karsten Creek in a few short weeks when the Class 6A state championship is held May 12-13. But before then, Stillwater High will travel to Bartlesville on Monday for a one last tournament before hosting regionals at Lakeside Golf Course on May 5.

“It’s definitely beneficial, because with the way it was today I don’t know how much better you can get prepared for this course unless the greens speed up a little bit or something,” Fort said.

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