Romeo: “You sure?”
A reader mentioned the other day that every time he sees Tee Time he expects a column about golf. That doesn’t often happen but today that reader gets his wish.
It’s pretty unusual for a high school golfer, a junior at that, to develop a game plan, then stick to it during a golf tournament.
That’s what Abilene’s Casey Sexton did last Monday and it paid off with a regional championship and an opportunity to play one of the greatest golf courses in the U.S., if not the world, at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, host of the Class 4A state tournament.
Most players grip it and rip it off the tee and then try to stick it tight by the cup.
Sexton’s plan was to hit a three-wood (or 3-metal) off the tee, then aim for the center of the green. Fairways’ and greens.
While the strategy didn’t work for Tin Cup, it did for Sexton who shot the lowest score 70 at the Concordia golf course which qualified him for the state tournament.
“My short game was on,” he said. “That basically sums that course up. If your short game is on, you’re going to play good. I hit a three-wood on almost every hole but one, where I needed to carry water.”
The water carry was 240 yards so you know right there that Sexton has some length off the tee.
“I expect to see a really hard course,” Sexton said of Prairie Dunes. “I heard that the greens are really fast, just like playing in the pros. A lot different than we’ve played all year. I’ve heard the course is amazing. I haven’t played there yet but I am going there Sunday for a practice round.”
Prairie Dunes has hosted the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open.
Sexton will be playing Sunday with his coach, Mark Willey, and former Abilene golfer Shawn Wyatt. Wyatt is a member of the course.
Most of the greens around Abilene have had their greens aerified. That’s when holes about the size of a dime are punched into the greens and then filled with sand. Both of Abilene’s courses received the aerification last week and the greens are slow a bumpy, just the opposite of the fast greens he’ll see Sunday and Monday. That makes it difficult for Sexton to practice his short game.
He was headed to the Salina Municipal Golf Course to work on the game before Sunday.
Before the aerfication the greens at the old Abilene Country Club (now Great Life Abilene) were fast and smooth. Sexton said he putted those greens pretty well and thinks he’ll be able to adjust.
He’s also going to stick to his fairways and greens game plan even though Prairie Dunes is a lot longer than the Concordia course.
“I’m thinking that on some of the par 4s that are under 400 yards, I’m going to hit a three-wood off the tee just to keep it in the fairway,” he said. “That will leave an eight or nine iron into the green.”
There are no comparisons between the Concordia golf course and Prairie Dunes. Concordia is a par 68; 5,146-yard course. Its rating is 65 and the slope is 112.
The Dunes is a par 70 and 1,452 yards longer; 6,598 from the blue tees. The rating is 74 and the slope is 139. That ranks it right up there with one of the toughest courses in the world.
Sexton qualified for the state tournament a year ago at the Russell regional. At state in Hesston, he shot 90. And while he probably wasn’t happy with that score he did better than 52 other Class 4A golfers. Monday, depending on the length and pin placements, 90 might be a great score.
His best advice came from his coach. “Have fun and enjoy the course.”