'Focus on your next shot': Youthful Midgets look to overcome loss of seniors
On Wednesday, April 10, the Dickinson High boys golf team gathered inside the classroom of Midgets assistant coach John Abrahamson. From there, the team watched videos and listened to pointers from head coach Sara Berglund on the new rule changes for the 2019 season.
Looking back at her were 16 members of the squad. The size of the varsity and junior varsity rosters are slightly smaller than in years past, but that may prove to be beneficial in some ways.
"That's a good number to have, I think," Berglund said. "We are able to spend more time with the kids; we aren't so spread out or spread thin. So, we are able to get around and really focus, work on their swings, and what they need to be successful. I like that number."
Berglund says she has an enthusiastic group, but one that doesn't have a great deal of experience.
The Midgets graduated four golfers who consistently posted some of the team's lowest numbers one year ago, including Hunter Myran. A freshman on Dickinson State men's golf team, Myran earned a spot on the 2018 All-WDA team.
Nonetheless, the head coach is encouraged by the team's youth and what it may bring to the table in the near future.
"With this incoming freshman group, I feel like there could be a few (surprises)," Berglund said. "I don't want to name names or anything yet because it's still early, but I feel like there could be a few. When I watched them play the last few days, you can tell they played a lot in the summer. They have a really nice swing and they love the game of golf. I'm just excited to see what they can bring."
As for the team's top returners, Dickinson will welcome back a pair of golfers who competed at the state meet last season: Logan Greef and Evan Lawhead.
A state-qualifier each of the last two seasons, Greef has been getting ready for the upcoming season since January with the help of a simulator located at the West River Community Center. Thanks to the semi-fortunate weather conditions in the early part of spring, Greef appreciates getting work done on an actual golf course.
"We've really been able to work on actually seeing how our club is affecting the ball because in the simulator, it's hard to tell," Greef said. "We have been very eager to get out there despite the weather. I'm sure maybe in a few weeks or a month, we won't care as much to go out there when it's windy."
Last season, Greef was happy just to be a member of the varsity team. This season, he looks forward to being a mentor to his teammates. While there are three seniors on the roster, Greef has played in a number of tournaments and has had some success.
As for Lawhead, time on the course has given him a chance to tinker with his swing. A state qualifier last year, Lawhead's average score of 94 last year is the lowest of any returning golfer. Since the 2018 season ended, he says he's put as much emphasis on the game played in between his shoulders as he has on the mechanics of his swing.
"I've tried to get better at managing myself and not to get frustrated when I hit bad shots or if I have a bad day," Lawhead said. "That's kind of what I've been working on because the mental element is a very important part of the game that you want to keep nice and stable."
The Midgets were scheduled to open their 2019 campaign with a pair of tournaments at the Heart River Golf Course, but each was postponed due to weather.
When the season does get underway, Dickinson is aiming to make its fourth straight state tournament. Finishing 11th at the state meet in 2016 and 2017, and 12th in 2018 at their home course, the Midgets' hopes for another appearance rest on a roster devoid of many moments in a tournament environment.
"We always say the most important shot is the next shot. Don't dwell on the past — just focus on your next shot," Berglund said. "Don't think, 'I need to be five under in the next three holes to make up those shots.'... That's kind of what I'm looking for, just to pay attention to things and learn how to compete in a tournament. Every tournament, they need to learn from it and learn how to play under pressure."