In nine years as head coach of the golf at Indian River, Neil Beahan has never had a better team.
“This is our deepest team since I’ve been here,” said Beahan. “We have 11 guys this year, with three on the taxi squad (practice team). The kids are great and they really want to win — they practice more than my past teams, and sometimes I have to chase them out of practice.”
More golfers increases competition, and more competition means the level of play will also improve, according to Beahan.
“This is a great problem to have,” he said. “It pushes the kids to play harder and to compete for the top spot.”
Anyone who practices more and wants to improve generally will, and for a golf team who lost four matches by only five strokes, it seems essential to their success.
The Indians return four-year starter and All Conference honorable mention recipient, senior Jordan Hale, as their number one golfer this season. The team captain will have a great young group of golfers to help take the pressure off this season, unlike many seasons in the past.
“Right now we have six guys who can and will compete for us in matches. Of those six, four will be scored, so we’ll have a great shot to win every match,” said Beahan.
Juniors Justin Albright and Craig Conover, as well as sophomores Richard Webster and Matt Binsted, are expected to compete at a very high level this season. Senior Graham Esender is penciled in as the sixth and final starter as the season opens this week.
“We use a lot of inter-squad play, so our line-up may change as the season progresses,” said Beahan.
Webster was a first-year starter last year as a freshman, and has set a new precedent for golf at Indian River.
“We are building a good program that is starting to take off,” said Beahan. “We’ve been able to develop some great talent here.”
This season the golf team will move their practices from the Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club, near Holts Landing, to the Bear Trap Golf Club, in Ocean View. Moving to Bear Trap permanently may be a blessing in disguise.
“The golf pros at Bear Trap will be a great help giving pointers when they can,” said Beahan. “They said most of the kids can hit the ball great — they just need to work on their chipping and putting.”
Beahan and his group of golfers are looking to improve markedly on their moderate success of last year in hopes of doubling their win total.
“I think we have a great shot to win 10 to 11 matches this season and to push very hard for the southern Henlopen conference championship this year,” said Beahan.