Although the 2020 Boys’ Golf season didn’t end quite how the golfers would have liked, there were many positives for the team to be proud of when considering all they went through to even play. Even with a three-week break due to COVID and being in 100 percent online school, the varsity team competed in seven 18-hole meets and three nine-hole meets.
The Bolts started on a high note to the season. They placed first at the three-team-meet with a score of 349, beating West High by four and City High by 11. Tate Brunk, sophomore, and JJ Grimm, freshman, tied for first place individual medalists with a score of 85. Ryan Schmierer, freshman, and Luke Nichols, senior, finished out the top four with scores of 89 and 90 respectively.
“Tying for co-medalist in a meet is fun, especially for first place with your teammate. Walking into that meet, I had a lot of confidence that we were gonna play well and had a chance to win. There were a lot of ups and downs during my round but I kept fighting and battling. Wasn’t my best performance but it sure was a fun day!” Brunk stated.
There were only two seniors on the team this year, which required the underclassmen to step up. Brunk, Grimm, and Schmierer played all 10 varsity meets and helped lead the team to four top-four finishes.
“It was a good feeling because I always think back to what the seniors said when I was a freshman and I really took their words and actions into consideration. So being a senior and leader on the team, I took the way I held myself around them seriously,” Nichols said about mentoring underclassmen.
Upperclassmen golfers found themselves in a leadership role early on with so many underclassmen to model expectations for and to set the precedent for what should be done.
During the next couple meets, the boys struggled a bit, placing fifth out of 13 at Geneva Golf and Country Club meet and sixth out of 10 at Blue Top Ridge meet at Riverside Casino. The boys didn’t let this stop them though, returning from those meets to place second at Gates Park Golf Course in Waterloo. The Bolts ended the first half of their season placing fourth in a 9-hole meet at their home course, Brown Deer in Coralville against Western Dubuque, Waterloo West, and Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
Starting on Monday, September 7, the team started their three-week long break due to COVID procedures. Although the team couldn’t hold official practices, many individuals still practiced together at Brown Deer and other nearby courses to ensure they were prepared to play as soon as the COVID break was over.
“During the three-week break, I hit golf balls in my garage on a simulator and went to Brown Deer to practice with the guys,” Grimm said.
Over the break, the team missed out on three meets, one of which was supposed to be played at Brown Deer. The boys spent hours on end practicing individually together but without coaches.
Schmierer responded to what he did during the break with, “During the three weeks we were off, I made sure to continue practicing, doing everything I could to keep my swing fresh and be prepared for when we got the chance to play again.”
Monday, September 28, was the first meet back for the team. They only had one week until the state qualifier, so the team had to get back into the winning mindset very quickly. Their first meet of the week was in Dubuque where the playing conditions were brutal. It was very chilly with gusts of wind between 15-20 mph. The boys got through that meet and put it behind their back placing seventh out of eight teams. Two days later, the team traveled to Gardner Golf course in Cedar Rapids to play another 18-hole meet This meet was played against a total of eight other teams including: Linn-Mar, Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Xavier, Prairie, West High, Cedar Rapids Jefferson and City High. While hopes were high for better weather, this time the conditions were even worse. Temps were significantly colder and the wind was worse than it had been on Monday. Overall, the Bolts placed eighth out of nine teams at the Gardner meet. The team struggled through and put their minds onto the last nine-hole meet of the year.
At Pleasant Valley in Iowa City on Thursday, October 1st, the team posted their nine-hole low of the year at 163 and placed second in the meet. Zack Anderson, senior, and Grimm posted a score of 39 placing second individually in the entire meet out of four teams.
FInally, the state qualifying meet was on Monday, October 5th. The meet was in Des Moines at Willow Creek Golf Club. The team shot a team score of 342 with scores of 83 from Schmierer, 84 from Brunk, 87 from Nichols, 88 from both Anderson and Grimm, and rounding out the team, Shane Alberts, senior shot 90. Although the team played well, they fell short of qualifying for state. The team placed seventh out of nine teams and would’ve had to post a score of 316 or better to qualify for the state tournament. Also, Schmierer was only three shots away from qualifying individually.
The season was definitely different because of COVID but the boys were still able to make a statement with their overall placements, both as a team and individually.
“My favorite parts of the season was the bus/van rides to meets and our final practice of the year where we always play fun games,” said Alberts
While trying to stay natural and provide our Bolt readers with a fair and honest analysis of the season, it is important for me to include my thoughts on this season as well. This was my, Zack Anderson, senior season playing golf for Liberty. It is important for me to say, I am not only proud of myself but incredibly proud of our team as a whole and how we fought through the obstacles of this season. Although some meets didn’t end exactly how we wanted, but we always showed up the following day ready to improve whether it was at a meet or in practice. But most importantly, I am truly grateful for the time I got to spend with my teammates and coaches. Being a four-year golfer and a leader on the team, it was very important to me to take the underclassmen under my wing. I can confidently say they will pick up right where they left off this season and continue to improve every single day, bring home more wins and most importantly, continue to have fun.