McPherson Invitational conditions were brutal

By Steve Sell
April 07, 2016

I once played in a high school golf tournament in Arkansas City — I think in fact it was on April Fool’s Day — where we started the round in 65-degree temperatures and sunny, pristine conditions.

By the time we finished the 5-hour-plus round, there were snow flurries starting to cover the greens.

Weather for spring high school golf tournaments is a hit-and-miss proposition. For Thursday’s McPherson High School Invitational at Turkey Creek, it was a definite miss. 

A big-time miss.

I felt badly for the 75 golfers in the field as I have endured countless rounds in miserable conditions, so miserable that I wanted to trunk it before the round was over.

 With fierce winds howling out of the northwest on Thursday, buffeting to nearly 30 miles per hour, the golfers tried mightily to keep the ball on line, only to be repelled by Mother Nature. Anyone who plays TC on a regular basis knows that a northwest wind is the worst there can be. Tee balls that start out down the middle of the fairway can end up in the water, which is prevalent on more than half the holes on the course.

The ol’ girl certainly had her way on this day. M.N. must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed as she wasn’t going to budge an inch and was determined to make life miserable. In past years, the medalist has been right around par 70 and the winning team score has been in the high 290s or low 300s.

As the golfers trudged in, 70 wasn’t even scared. Not one golfer in the field — and there were some quality players here — was able to break 80. The best score came from Sacred Heart sophomore stud Grant Herrenbruck, who didn’t have the look of a guy who had just won a tournament afterward. He shot an 81, a score he probably won’t shoot again this year as he’s one of the most talented young golfers in Kansas.

I got a chance to talk with him after the tournament and he seemed more relieved than anything else to get off the course. He’s a polite young man who’ll certainly be interviewed many more times after tournaments because he’s going to win a bunch. Anybody who can drive it over the green on No. 17 — even with the trade wind blowing at his back — is a true ball-striker in my book and I’ve played with some of the best over the course of 50 years.

Hutchinson, whose coach Charlie Pierce is an old Bullpup golfer from 40 years ago, shot a 341 to win the team title, a score that would have put it near the bottom in other years. As I listened to golfers come into the clubhouse, there were endless tales of woes and the youngsters were lamenting that they had never played in conditions quite like these.

But like they say, the course was the same for everybody. Golf superintendent Jason Buschbom and his staff should be commended for having the course in the best shape it's been in since it opened in 1990. The fairways were neatly trimmed and the greens rolling true. A lot of unnecessary brush and limbs have been cleaned up. It was a fair test of golf for all that teed it up.

Now if Mother Nature had only cooperated and given us a day to see what these kids could really do in normal conditions.