It was a rebuilding year for the Judge Memorial golf team, and the Bulldogs' fourth-place finish at state was all gravy.
"They exceeded my expectations," said coach Jim Beisel.
And no one more than Andrew Etzel surprised nabbing the first-place individual trophy. It was his only tournament win of the year. He knows how to compete. Often hitting stray shots, he would scramble to get up and down.
"He made it work," said Beisel.
Etzel would also judiciously select an iron off the tee when others would rip a driver and get into trouble. But the Bulldog senior will move on most likely taking his game to the University of Utah. Craig Chiesa is the only other senior who will not return from this year's team.
Sophomore Michael Hanover and freshman Rob Puskedra are expected to anchor the team next year. They will be joined by Johnny Murphy and Will Bowers, who will return for their senior year.
"Murphy has good form," said Beisel, "but all these kids need to work on not taking big numbers on holes. ..." He added, "They need to work on the close game and on course management."
And, of course, putting. Beisel recounted a number of holes where his players three-putted — or more — resulting in those big numbers he was talking about.
Beisel repeated the old adage, "You drive for show and putt for dough." But high school kids, especially, like to blast the ball as hard as they can and like to practice that more than putting.
Beisel feels his team will be stronger next year, but he is in a tough region where a couple of other teams will return almost everyone. He said, "Our last state title was exactly 10 years ago."
Next year looks promising for the Bulldogs, but it may be tough to improve on this year. About his team this year, Beisel concluded, "I am proud of the way they finished up. They kept at it."