It looks to be a good year on the links for the 2011 Tyler Consolidated Silver Knight varsity golf team. Forced to rebuild practically from the ground up due to the loss of several players, the Knights will have a solid year thanks to returning players with experience. The West Virginia High School varsity golf season begins earlier than other sports, so the Knights have already begun the 2011 season.
"Of the 12 players we had last year, we lost six of them to graduation, one moved away, and apparently two others have decided not to play this year," said veteran head golf coach at Tyler Consolidated, Joe Griffith. "So if there ever was such a thing as rebuilding year, this is it. In my 34 years of coaching golf, I can't remember ever losing such a large percentage of the team from one year to the next. But even with all of that loss, we will have three returning players who promise to record some nice low scores this year. We will also have at least five other new players to join them, with the possibility of another one or two coming out yet to round out our roster."
The Silver Knight team will be anchored by two returning seniors: Swayde Carpenter and Dalton Wells both who have been part of the team for four years. "They are both quality golfers and should be recording scores just a few strokes over par for most matches," Griffith said. "Carpenter has been away on vacation yet this first week of August, so I haven't seen how much he has improved since last year. But I know that he has been working at his game in the off-season. Dalton has played in our first two matches and has had some impressive scoring in both. They will serve as our co-captains, and I know they will provide some good senior leadership for the team."
The Tyler Consolidated High School golf team started the 2011 season recently, participating in two events. Pictured above, from left to right are: head coach, Joe Griffith, co-captains Dalton Wells and Swayde Carpenter, and assistant coach, Jerry Zwick.
Three juniors, Luke Carpenter, Isaiah Casinelli and Mitchell Higgins will don Silver Knight golf shirts as part of the team this season. "Luke will be the second of three Carpenter brothers on our team this year," said the coach. "With a bit of experience under his belt, I look for him to be a regular starter. Isaiah and Mitchell are just joining the team this year, but they are both dedicated learners who should do well for us once they become more familiar with the game."
Corey Wells (no relation to Dalton Wells) will hold down the spot as the lone sophomore on the team. "Last year, his match average was a little over three strokes over par, so he will definitely be a key factor in the success of this year's team," Griffith said.
"The freshman class will be represented by Blake Carpenter and Johnathan Lancaster. Blake-who is Carpenter brother number three-also has some experience at the game and will fill out the regular starters for our team this year. Lancaster is just beginning the sport, but with four of the others on vacation yet this first week, he has already seen action in two matches."
In the 2010 season the Silver Knight golfers finished with 37 wins against 59 losses, and this year have set a gol of upping their total number of wins. "We have a goal of winning at least 40 matches this year," the coach said. "With the returning experience of Swayde Carpenter, Dalton Wells and Corey Wells, the key to winning 40 or more will be finding a solid fourth score to go with those three."
With the earlier start of school this year for most districts, the dates available for 18-hole matches were limited to the first two weeks of August. But most teachers are back to school this week, so many tournaments, including the LKC Scramble, were moved up to the first week of the season. "That left us with only one day of practice and then we headed for the LKC Scramble at Woodridge Plantation golf Club in Mineral Wells," Griffith said. "But with four of our players still on vacation and others not yet eligible, we were only able to take three to the matches this first week. So our team consisted of senior Dalton Wells along with sophomore Corey Wells and new-to-the-game freshman Johnathan Lancaster."
"Our team total of 66 (five under par) was one stroke off the pace from last year's effort. The number of teams in the field was also down with the earlier start-only six compared to last year's ten." Team totals included: Parkersburg Catholic Blue 62 (nine under par), Roane A 63; St. Marys Purple 64; Wirt 65; Tyler Consolidated 66; and Willaimstown 70.
"This is our only scramble of the season, and the players really enjoyed starting things off by playing together as a team, even if they were missing a fourth man. They were allowed to hit an extra shot all along the way, rotating that shot among themselves and this helped in a few situations."
"Dalton and Corey are both long hitters off the tee, so most holes they had a good starting shot. One of them was usually able to put a long and safe shot out in the middle and then the other could try to cut the corner or really crunch the drive without worrying about having it go wrong. Several times, this really worked for them. On hole 13, which is a 381-yard dogleg, they were able to put their tee shot just about ten yards off the green. That's the longest shot I've ever seen on that hole. Meanwhile, Johnathan did exactly what an inexperienced player should do in a scramble-he hit several nice chips and putts to contribute to the team effort."
With temperatures in the low 90s, team scores across the board were a bit higher than last year. Counting only the A teams, the Silver Knights finished the day with a record of 1-4.
At the St. Marys Invitational Tournament on Aug. 3 the Knights again took to the course with only three.
"Temperatures cooled a bit for our second 18-hole match of the week, the St. Marys Invitational," the coach said. "We only had three players again for this match, with senior co-captain Dalton Wells leading the way. His round of eight-over-par, 72, earned him All-Tournament honors."
"Sophomore Corey Wells got into some trouble on a couple of holes, but had a solid round of 80. Freshman Johnathan Lancaster struggled throughout the day, but gained some valuable playing experience for someone new to the game. The field for this tournament was predominantly single-A schools, with only Roane providing competition for us in the AA category. Since we had only three players, we followed the scoring used for regional play and counted only three scores. That brought our early-season record to one win against five losses. Roane would have finished second overall if counting four scores."
Team scoring results are as follows: class AA (counting three scores), Roane 222; TCHS - 280; class A (counting four scores), Weirton Madonna A 295; St. Marys Purple 301; Wheeling Central 320; Williamstown 329; St. Marys Gold 337; Parkersburg Catholic 341; Wirt 355; Weirton Madonna B 356; and South Harrison 379.
Individual scores for the Knight golfers were: Dalton Wells - 36/36-72; Corey Wells 42/38-80; and Johnathan Lancaster 64/64-128.
"So with our first two matches of the 2011 season now in the books, we will have a week and a half of practice to solidify our team before we begin our regular season nine hole matches," Griffith concluded. "The first of those will come on August 17, with a JV match against John Marshall, St. Marys and Paden City. The Wildcats and Coach Ed Amos have seven out for their team this year, and with the preponderance of beginning golfers on our team, we should be a good JV match-up for them this year."