For four years, the trio of Eli Rogers, Brad Palin, and Tyler Jessop has been battling it out on the golf course. This trio of Hamilton High School seniors, along with junior, Kyle Lubke, has become the team with the ‘X’ on their backs as they have set the bar high on golf courses around the state. The team is their own best competition both in a tournament and at practice. They push each other and are not about to let an error go unnoticed with gentle and some not so subtle joshing.
“We are tough on each other. We are our worst, best teammates,” said Rogers.
They all agree that golf has given them confidence on and off the course. Palin said the mental confidence he has acquired while playing golf has helped on the basketball court and in the classroom.
But even as the defending state champions, the Broncs have struggled this year with some physical problems. Roger’s woes began last March on the basketball court when he landed in the bleachers while playing and sustained a broken hip. The injury sidelined him for three months. It wasn’t until mid summer he was able to get back on the golf course. Palin’s problems occurred this fall when he was hit on the leg by a golf ball and kept him out for much of the season. He just returned to full practices a couple of weeks ago. Jessop also had some minor injuries but all three were back to full strength for the Southwest A Divisional held on Saturday at the Hamilton Golf Course.
The season began for the golfers even before school started. They had at least two tournaments a week beginning mid August. Coach Owen Burch said the purpose of having the tournaments early was so the students wouldn’t miss as much school.
“And then when some schools changed their dates too, we had a bunch of back-to-back tournaments,” he concluded.
Having the divisional tournament, as well as the up-coming state championship tournament this weekend, on your home turf is definitely an advantage according to the team.
“It takes the pressure off of us,” said Jessop.
Rogers agreed and said, “ the greens are smaller and faster but we are used to them.”
The Southwest Divisional proved to be a little tougher for the Broncs than they anticipated. Although they easily topped the field and won the divisional championship, the names on the leader board were not in the usual order. But as with any strong team, when one teammate struggles, another steps up. Jessop, who had played strongly all season, didn’t have his best day.
“Kyle (Lubke) stepped up,” said Burch. “Usually Tyler (Jessop) has been the one in the lead this year but he struggled and someone had to step up.”
The top four golfers all shot a 76 but Dillon’s Travis Lake won first on a tiebreaker. Tied for second were Lubke, Rogers, and Palin. Jessop and Stevensville’s Miles Plachy tied for fifth. Hamilton finished 42 strokes ahead of second place Dillon.
The Hamilton girls finished in third place behind Dillon and Anaconda and will also compete this weekend in Hamilton at the State A tournament. Emily Winter shot a 107 and finished fourth, Teammate Mishaila Conway was fifth with a 109. Meg Maclean was ninth with 120 and Alyssa Heath finished in 12th place with a 125.
“The girls ran out of steam on the back nine,” said Burch. “The greens were a little faster than they expected but it was a nice surprise how well they did.”
The State A golf tournament will begin Friday and conclude on Saturday. Burch said about 75 to 80 boys and probably 65 girls will compete. There will be bleachers for the public to view play on the 9th and the 18th hole. He said the support of the golf course and golf pro Jason Lethola, the school, the booster club and the community has been tremendous for the event.
Team Results: Hamilton 308, Dillon 350, Anaconda 363, Stevensville 364, Butte Central 381.
Top 10 individuals
1. Travis Lake, Dillon 76
2. (tie) Kyle Lubke, Hamilton 76
2. Eli Rogers, Hamilton 76
2. Brad Palin, Hamilton 76
5. (tie) Tyler Jessop, Hamilton 80
5. Milan Plachy, Stevensville 80
Hamilton (308) – Kyle Lubke 76, Eli Rogers 76, Brad Palin 76, Tyler Jessop 80, Bridger Palin 93
Stevensville (364) – Milan Plachy 80, Jace Omlid 92, Grooms Spencer 96, Corbin Disney 96, Blake Servoss 98,
1. McKenah Blume, Anaconda 101
4. Emily Winter, Hamilton 107
5. Mishaila Conway, Hamilton 109
9. Meg Maclean, Hamilton 120
12. Alyssa Heath, Hamilton 125