BOZEMAN — Belgrade’s golf team tuned up for the state tournament by capping the regular season with the two-day Bozeman Invitational.
Thursday’s portion of the tournament was held at Valley View Golf Club, while Day 2 took place at Riverside County Club. First-year Panthers coach Mike Deming noted it was tough outing both days for his team.
“We just had too many holes that we posted big numbers on,” he said. “In the game of golf, competitive golf, you have to eliminate those bad holes and we just had too many of those yesterday and today to have any competitive scores.”
Bozeman swept the team titles to complete perfect regular seasons. The boys, led by Justus and Jordan Verge, helped the Hawks post a 583. Helena Capital was a distant second with a 648.
Braxton Butler withdrew from the tournament for Belgrade, while Jaxson Hinshaw was disqualified. With just three remaining players, the Panthers did not score as a team.
Brock Blake led the squad with rounds of 81 and 83 for a 164, while Anthony Madison (79-90) and Brodie Falk (97-85) followed with scores of 169 and 182, respectively.
“We had some good stretches of holes, but when you post a big number on a hole it really derails a good round,” said Deming. “So I think we all had triples or quads on holes and that’s going to be difficult to be competitive when you have some of those on your scorecard at the end of the day.”
On the girls side, Bozeman posted a team total of 651. Billings West had a 678, while Butte had a 693.
Belgrade, which did not field a full team, was led by a 228 from Sophia Flikkema. The senior had rounds of 119 and 109.
Jordan Whitaker finished just one stroke behind with a 229 (113-116) and Riley McMahon had a 250 (132-118) after improving by 14 strokes on Day 2. Brynn Butler withdrew from the tournament.
While both the boys and girls struggled to be consistent, Deming noted their play can be corrected.
“A lot of it is things that we can work on,” he said. “Some of it is just controlling your emotions when things don’t go great and not compounding one mistake to another. So it’s just a matter of focusing on the shot and eliminating consistent bad shots.”
The state Class AA tournament is scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at Meadow Lark County Club in Great Falls. The aforementioned golfers will be representing Belgrade at the tournament.
Bozeman’s squads are the favorites heading into the season finale.
“I think Bozeman, obviously, is the front runner and rightfully so. They have a very good team and there are some other teams in the state that are playing well as well,” said Deming. “Helena Capital, Missoula Sentinel and I think Glacier is solid. So there’s some teams out there that are competitive. But I think we can put a good number up if we all play together and we can eliminate those bad holes.”
While the Panthers have had their share of struggles throughout the season, Deming is optimistic about how they can perform at state if they can limit mistakes.
“I think if we can eliminate those big holes ... the guys have gotten better consistently, but those large numbers on multiple holes are just derailing their competitive score,” he said. “But if we can do that I do like the way some of the guys are hitting it and I do think that we could be competitive.”