Familiarity breeds another state trip
When we last left the Rockdale golf team, they were making a second-day charge at the state tournament before a downpour rained on their parade and put a premature end to the tournament—and any chance for the Tigers to medal.
The Tiger linksters will be back on the bag Thursday and Friday at the UIL state golf tournament and hopefully, will have a more fortuitous first round than last year.
Despite the fact he was not the golf coach in 2010, Dusty Loewe was as close to the team as you can get, following his son Lance, who graduated last year.
The Tigers also lost Waylon Boyd and Tyler Wright off that team that made school history by becoming the first boys golf team to appear at the state tournament, which makes their return trip to state that much more impressive.
Loewe gained a unique familiarity with golf courses all over Texas while hauling his son—one of the top junior golfers in the state—to tournaments over the summer. Loewe made sure the Tigers played at Kizer-like courses, preparing them for another chance at the state tournament.
“We tried to play in tournaments this year that were on courses similar to what we would see in major competitions and play on courses of that caliber,” Loewe said. “We played at The Falls in New Ulm and finished second behind class 4A Brenham and played in the regional preview at The Village where we finished third.”
“After that competition in Willis, I felt like we had a chance to get back to Austin along with perenial powers from our region Gatesville, Sealy and Caldwell.”
Losing Boyd, Wright and Lance Loewe was a blow to their chances of repeating, but newcomers Grant Galbreath and Garrett Korenek surpassed all expectations to blend in with returnees Kirk Williams, Patrick David and Casey Burrough.
This return trip to Austin has to be especially sweet for the senior Burrough, who was on the team last year, but was beaten out in a playoff to be the fifth man by David by one stroke.
“Basically, we had a good nucleus coming back with Kirk, Patrick and Casey who were there for everything,” said Loewe. “Garrett and Grant played a lot of golf since last year and have really improved their games. “
Galbreath and Korenek are both sophomores.
And again, Loewe was more than a little familiar with the guys that were coming back and that added to the team’s comfort zone.
“Having watched nearly all of the tournaments last year while following Lance, I got to know the players some which helped in the transition to this year.” The Tigers were impressive in their quest, taking both district and regional titles—something last year’s quintet did not have on their resume.
“How did we do it ? The guys played a lot of golf and they hung tough at regionals through some very tough playing conditions (wind, pine trees and very slick greens),” Loewe said. “And yes, I think deep down each of the players felt like they could make it to Austin again.”
Think ‘British Open’
Of course a strange golf course always plays a role in how well a team does at the post-season level, but in the Class 3A tournament, nowhere does it play a bigger part.
The 6,749-yard, par 71 Roy Kizer Golf Course—which sits next to Jimmy Clay in south Austin—is a links style layout that harkens back to the origins of golf in Scotland when it was called “gof”.
There are no trees, no sand traps and just a little bit of water.