GENEVA – There they were, in full team garb.
The shots were flying off the tees.
The putts looked pressure-packed.
High school golf season was officially on.
But, remember, this was only Day 1.
Even the coaches aren’t entirely sure what they have at this point in the season, the very beginning point, but the joy of getting the season started was plenty evident Monday at the McChesney Cup at Geneva Golf Club.
The annual event pairs one rival with another in a fun and friendly team competition. Batavia teams with Geneva against the combo of St. Charles East and St. Charles North.
It’s an event the coaches and golfers enjoy equally. Not only does it allow them to get to know their local competition in a less heated environment, but it signals the start of the season.
In the dog days of August, what could be better than that?
“I like the fact it’s a team event and we can team up with Geneva, who tends to be our rival, the team just north of us that everyone always wants to beat,” Batavia coach Tim DeBruycker said. “When it comes head-to-head, we’ll want to beat them when it comes time. But it’s just nice for the kids to realize it’s just another team, golfers just like us.
“I think when [former Geneva golf coach Bill Koehn] started this, it was a really nice idea. He’s a Geneva graduate, and I’m a Batavia graduate. We were both hearing too much about, ‘I hate this, or I hate that.’ That word should never be used in sports at all, so we just tried to show them they’re just like us, just another team. Bill always wanted to beat me, I always wanted to beat him. But when it came down to it, this is just a nice golf event to team up with our rivals.”
Plus, the relationship-building aspect of the event means that when these teams do collide further down the road, it will make that competition a bit more enjoyable.
“Knowing them later in the year, further down in the season, you kind of get to know them more when you’re playing with them. You can talk to them, and it’s more relaxing, I think, because you kind of know what the person’s like,” Geneva senior Garrett Davis said.
The results weren’t the thing in the forefront of everyone’s mind Monday, however the event did have a winner. The East/North combo defeated the Geneva/Batavia combo, 168½ to 119½, in a format that included a scramble, a best-ball competition and an alternate-shot round.
Mainly, however, the day was about starting to figure out how good these teams can be.
“It’s a little bit different format, but a coach gets an idea of where the team’s going and who’s strong, who can come out and play,” St. Charles East coach John Stock said. “All the different formats affect that a little bit, but certainly the best ball and the head-to-head, you know what your player shot.”
That’s especially true for Eric Hatczel, in his first year coaching the Geneva boys after previously guiding the girls team. He’s taking over for Koehn, and he seems to be already getting a feel for his new team.
“This is the first match, so it’s too early to tell, to be honest,” Hatczel said. “We’ll see. I think there’s a good group of boys. We have a decent number on the team this year. We’ll see this week, we kind of hit it hard and heavy from the beginning. Today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Saturday. So we’ll find out real quick.”
The bottom line? Golf season is here.
“I’m really happy, got a lot of friends on the team. We had a good feeling going into today, and we’re playing pretty well as of now. Can’t wait for the rest of the season,” St. Charles East senior Ronnie Griggs said. “Should be a lot of fun.”