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Prep Golf Insider: Changing course

St. Charles East's Paige Jordan hits from the rough during the Upstate Eight Conference girls golf meet Sept. 24 at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club in West Chicago.
St. Charles East's Paige Jordan hits from the rough during the Upstate Eight Conference girls golf meet Sept. 24 at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club in West Chicago.

Girls coaches at today's Class A Johnsburg Regional received a phone call about 10 days ago reporting a change in plans.

Yes, the tournament still was on, but it would be switching locations from Chapel Hill Country Club in McHenry to Boone Creek Golf Club in Bull Valley. Chapel Hill does not allow spectators, which isn't exactly a match for the golf postseason.

St. Francis athletes didn't mind the change after taking stock of Boone Creek during a weekend practice round. The layout is flat and wide open without many hazards or obstacles, and with three Par 5s generally plays comfortably short.

"The girls were pretty happy after they got done with their round," Spartans coach Matt Walsh said. "It looks like a place where we might be able to score pretty well."

A seasoned lineup of four seniors and two juniors has seen its share of different courses through the years, so Walsh called the venue change "no big deal." Whether the regional setting was Chapel Hill or Boone Creek, St. Francis would lean on its practice round and go from there.

Seniors Sarah Pinns and Caroline French have sparked St. Francis for much of the season, including steady showings at recent 18-hole invitationals. The Spartans finished fourth out of 12 teams at Glendale Lakes two weekends ago and this past Saturday took 10th at the 16-team Rosary Invitational at Fox Valley.

Rosary and Aurora Central Catholic also are part of the Johnsburg Regional field.

Four to follow
Grouped together at last week's Upstate Eight Conference River Division meet at St. Andrews in West Chicago, the Tri-Cities quartet of Dan Shepherd (St. Charles North), Max Kelly (St. Charles East), Colin Lillibridge (Geneva) and Nathan Podraza (Batavia) combined to shoot no higher than 81.

Shepherd delivered the standout round of the group and tournament with a 69, but the dropoff wasn't particularly drastic after that. Kelly and Lillibridge both finished as top 10 individuals, with Podraza falling short of that distinction only via scorecard tiebreaker.

"Dan was hitting the ball really well and everyone else just played fairly solid," Lillibridge said. "No major mistakes all day. Just getting up and down when you get in trouble and hitting good shots when you had the opportunity."

GCI carumba
Algonquin's Golf Club of Illinois, which hosts the East, North, Batavia and Geneva girls as part of today's Class 3A Crystal Lake Central Regional, features the monstrous Par 5 No. 11 hole, once the longest hole in the U.S. at 678 yards from the professional tees.

No. 11 plays at 531 yards from the forward tees.

Regardless of length, several mounds and bunkers guard the left side, while out of bounds – and residences – straddle the right.


St. Charles North seniors
What they did:
Within the past week, Ariana Furrie (girls) and Dan Shepherd (boys) have earned medalist honors at their respective Upstate Eight Conference and UEC River tournaments. On Tuesday, the North Stars' Raghav Cherala led all inviduals with a 73 helping North win the 3A Larkin Regional title at The Highlands of Elgin.

Kaneland juniors
What they did:
Less than a week after medalist Brody Kuhar sparked Kaneland's rally to a third successive Northern Illinois Big 12 East title, classmate Matt Yonkovich carded a 72 to lead the Knights to the title at Monday's 2A Sycamore Regional.

Preparation can be passive. Shepherd said he drew inspiration for his UEC River round from watching early-week Ryder Cup festivities at Medinah Country Club. East attended a handful of events as a team. "That was really neat to see those players and be part of the atmosphere," Saints senior Max Kelly said. "Even in the practice rounds."

Which Chronicle-area boys and girls golfers will be bound for the state tournament. Sectionals will be held statewide this coming Monday and Tuesday as athletes vie for berths downstate. State tournament course assignments include: Prairie Vista in Bloomington (Class 1A boys), Red Tail Run in Decatur (A girls), Weibring in Normal (2A boys), Hickory Point in Forsyth (AA girls) and The Den at Fox Creek (3A boys).

Sly's really digging what's going down out Kaneland way, and not just because of the Knights' patented depth.

There's no question that's been paramount to the team's run to the NI Big 12 East and regional crowns, but it's also the fact it translates to the top. Any Knight could be the top scorer on any given afternoon, which makes Kaneland a more dangerous outfit that most.

A lot of deep teams still have a hands-down No. 1. Lately, the Knights have had three or four, and it's suiting them just fine.

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