By Stephen Smoot
Coming off a first-place tie at Highlands against capable competition, Pendleton County High School’s golf squad traveled to Keyser. Thirty-four players from Pendleton County, Keyser, Frankfort, Southern, Allegany, and University came to the Polish Pines on a sunny 80-degree day with little wind.
The Polish Pines provides a strong contrast to the Wildcats’ home course. Highlands’ rural setting offers spectacular views and natural surroundings. It also provides ample space for competitors and other attendees to play and watch comfortably. The more suburbanesque location of Polish Pines is still a beautiful setting, but also leaves it hemmed in between subdivisions.
The narrow and linear course runs along a flatter surface and is maintained extremely well. Coach Charlie Burgoyne described it as “easier than Highlands, but it’s a nice course. It has well kept greens.” He added that, “It’s really compact. It has nine holes packed in there together.”
Brayden Beachler also noted that the course is “really tight” with “lots of trees.” He explained that the best approach for him to adapt was “to club up and swing lighter.”
Cameron Beachler outpaced all Wildcats with a score of 41. As he worked to nail down a par on the final hole, he faced a row of pine trees running perpendicular across the fairway. Assistant Coach Kelly Sites noted as he prepared his shot that “those trees don’t bother him” as he found an angle to get the ball safely to the green.
The course was “very good,” according to Cameron Beachler, who added “it made me more precise with smoother shots instead of just swinging hard.”
He added “chipping was good. I even chipped one in.”
With regionals this week, the Wildcats are approaching the close of their season. Sites said that although it was hard to pick one, that Haiden Waggy was the most improved player. Waggy scored a 50 at Keyser.
Sites added that the best way for a player to improve is “to stay focused.” He said that the Wildcat golfers focus “on putting and chipping, which is where you normally gain or lose most of your strokes.” He said that golfers “should practice these fundamentals more than anything else.” Patience also serves as a vital skill because “the tendency of kids that age is to not take your time.”
Other results from Keyser: Brayden Beachler tied Waggy with a 50, Mason DiFalco shot a 52, and Evan Teter scored a 61. Pendleton County placed fifth in the six-team tournament featuring mostly larger schools. University took top honors.
The Wildcats also competed at Moorefield on the very next day against Petersburg, East Hardy, Moorefield, and individual competitors from Tygarts Valley and Union. Cameron Beachler shot a 44, Waggy a 50, Brayden Beachler 54, Teter 53, and DiFalco a 57. Pendleton County placed fourth and Moorefield won the match.
Regionals took place on Sept. 26. Results were not available at press time. The state tournament takes place in Wheeling on the first week of October.