Course time swings foes into friendsJune 5, 2014
By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer
When Heritage Hills’ Corey Teaford met Southridge’s Beau Schneider at the two teams’ dual meet last spring, each golfer’s first impression of the other was what you may expect.
Teaford, a pint-sized freshman at the time, looked at the well-built linebacker-turned-linksman and trembled ever so slightly at the sight of Schneider.
“He’s really big, and he’s got a beard,” Teaford recalled thinking of the then-junior, who played about 70 yards longer off the tee on every hole. “And I was a freshman. And I was still probably 5-foot.”
“He was really short and tiny,” Schneider recounted.
Then they played a round together. And later that season, they play again. And again.
This spring, the two have paired up some five or six more times, and with each round, the friendship between foes grows a little more. That initial intimidation? It’s more of a two-way street nowadays.
When the two linked up at Cambridge Golf Course early this spring, Teaford accomplished the unthinkable, outdriving Schneider on the par-4 ninth.
When he looked back at Schneider, Teaford raised his arm and pumped a quick biceps flex.
A few minutes later, however, when Schneider went on to drill a 25-foot slicing putt from the back fringe of the hole’s two-tiered green as Teaford three-putted for bogey, the Raider senior made sure to return the favor to his young Patriot counterpart.
“I gave him a little smirk,” Schneider said with a chuckle.
The friendly banter frequently meshes into high school golf, a sport in which guys typically spend more time with the opposition than they do their own teammates during matches. Couple that with the recurring encounters local teams have with one another within the two-month span of a season, and shaping ties with golfers on rival squads becomes a common theme.
“You start to develop relationships with them and want to talk to them because you’re playing with the same guys over and over,” Southridge coach Brock Matthews said.
“After so long, even after the golf season … you just go to courses and they’d be there. They’re just that familiar face that you get to see and talk to while you’re out there.”
Some teams even practice together from time to time, like Jasper and Southridge did on Tuesday at Sultan’s Run, where Friday’s sectional will take place.
Jasper’s Cam Weyer and Southridge’s Tyler Gray were able to swing another round together. The two have paired up for upwards of two dozen rounds over the past few years, by Weyer’s count, and they’re always running into each other at the Sultan’s Run driving range.
Eventually, the gregarious Weyer and quieter Gray got to the point where on-course jokes and jibes became kosher. So if Gray’s putts aren’t going down, Weyer may make a friendly acknowledgement to his congenial foe.
What matters most is that the golfers reach that level where they feel OK chatting it up with their opponents. Things are “usually kind of quiet” the first time guys play together, Teaford said, “but then you get to know each other more, you kind of bond over golf and things get less awkward.”
Which is good, considering “golf, I think more than any other sport, is about comfort,” Patriot coach Marc Schum said. “If you’re not comfortable on the course, not enjoying yourself,” it could be a long day.
“When you play with people you don’t know, you kind of stay to yourself and think about your own golf game, and you’re kind of tensed up,” Teaford added. “But whenever you’re playing with people that you know, just familiar people, you really start to relax. And sometimes, it can bring out some really good golf.”
Cole Wendholt knows all about it. The Forest Park senior paired up with Schneider and Jasper’s Jacob Bartley during a mid-May match at Christmas Lake Golf Course, and after “playing with a little bit of mojo” alongside the blithe bunch, fired a team-best 47.
It’s a little different for Wendholt, a first-year golfer for the Rangers, since he didn’t have the four years like teammates Winston Glenn and Drew Weyer to rub elbows with other area golfers, but he’s found that “everyone in the golf community is really friendly, and they’re all really open to helping each other,” Wendholt said.
When the Rangers squared off with South Spencer at The Rustic Country Club, Wendholt’s Rebel opponent even helped him out with course management, offering tips, do’s and don’ts at the course.
The way Wendholt sees it, players’ bonds are strengthened through the trials and tribulations 18 holes can reveal. And in that, the bonds become stronger.
“The game of golf, you’re not always the best at it. And those people are going to see you at your best and at your worst times,” Wendholt said. “So that definitely solidifies your relationship with them.”
The idea of inter-crew camaraderie is nothing new. Matthews, a 2004 Southridge grad, remembers hacking around with Jasper’s Kevin Flannagan and Andy Skillman, and became better friends with the two after high school when they’d run into each other when Matthews visited mutual friends who went to school in Bloomington. And Matthews recalls playing with former Heritage Hills standout Ted O’Brien.
“I still run into guys from other schools today,” Matthews said.
With the sectional, the stakes and stress are bumped to another level. And with the oft consuming anxiety, those familiar faces can become all the more welcomed.
“It kind of calms your nerves a little bit. You’re always going to have nerves going into (the sectional) a little bit, but knowing that there’s people that you know, that you can talk to and kind of take the attention away from that pressure a little bit, I think it helps all of them going into it,” Matthews said. “Just playing with each other so much during the year, it’s just like going out and playing another round of golf. Not thinking about, ‘Oh I need to do this. I need to do that.’ It’s just go out there and play.”
Contact Joe Jasinski
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