Behind the play of a solid group of upperclassmen, the boys varsity golf team has high hopes for a successful season

Behind the play of a solid group of upperclassmen, the boys varsity golf team has high hopes for a successful season

Around this time last year, junior Joe Murdock sat on his couch in utter silence and hoped for a golf season amid a growing Covid-19 virus. Joe’s hopes came crashing down when it was officially announced that schools nationwide would shut down for the rest of the school year.

“Last year, we were going to have a really fun team with a lot of seniors,” Joe said. “We were looking forward to getting Isaiah [Huempfner] back from Texas, and it was horrible knowing that we weren’t going to be able to play together at all.”

Like Joe, head coach Paul TenEyck and his 28 years of experience as the FHC boys varsity golf coach were not prepared to see the boys stash their clubs away early in March. It was evident that the hiatus from golf and normality would hurt the whole team’s morale, yet coach TenEyck saw it as an even greater threat to another vital part of the program.

“Not having a season last year really hurt the development of some of our younger players because there weren’t any opportunities for them to practice and excel,” coach TenEyck stressed.

This season, the younger players on the teams have no barriers in front of them to put a stranglehold on their golf development. Surrounded by grizzled upperclassmen golfers, the freshman tandem of Philip Murdock and Nicholas Notarnicola is in a world among giants; however, both of their extensive backgrounds in the sport of golf catapult them above the average high school golfer. Philip’s older brother on the team, Joe, weighed in on his brother’s elite abilities on the fairway and the green.

“I’m excited for Philip because I made varsity as a freshman, and he followed suit,” Joe explained. “He’s going to be a counting score, and I hope he can do well this season.”

The word phenom is usually thrown around too much in the sporting world, but sometimes players fit the word like a glove. Between his passion to see his brother succeed to his knack for drilling the ball in the cup, coach TenEyck envisions Joe in the same regards as a golfer “poised to have a huge junior season.”

“Joe Murdock is poised to have a huge junior season after his dedication and hard work this offseason,” coach TenEyck acknowledged. “I expect him to compete for an all-conference spot and be one of the better players in our area.”

Without a few veterans to layer on motivation and act as leaders, though, success would be extremely difficult to find throughout the West Michigan high school golf landscape. Two years ago, it was Isiah Huempfner leading the team to glory with a heavy dose of consistent, long drives at Frankenmuth Regionals. Now, it’s seniors Nic Stout and Cam David at the helm of the program. Nic relishes the opportunity to help out the younger guys, and he is confident in his ability to apply his vast knowledge of golf to each course this year.

“As a senior, it helps because I have more knowledge of the different courses around the area and how to play out certain situations when the younger guys need help,” Nic said. “I can’t wait to hit the course and help the younger guys out.”

Even though many aspects of school, sports, and life have changed since the last time coach TenEyck and his team suited up, the overarching goals for this season remain the exact same as every other season: win the conference, win the region, and compete at states. In order to kick the season off on April 12th with a bang and end the season on May 27th with another bang, coach TenEyck and his team understand that they need to rely on playing smart golf in the heat of battle.

“We need to play with sound course management. We are going to take what the course gives us, and attack when the course allows,” coach TenEyck said. “We are going to have to play smart golf.”