Camdenton's Spencer Melville, Osage's Ethan Kline and Versailles' Ori Bartlett and Garrett Boatright punched their tickets to play in the premier event of the season.
There is just one final tournament left to play this spring.
State tournaments featuring some of the best golfers in Missouri will get underway on Monday and Tuesday and golfers from Camdenton, Osage and Versailles will be among them in pursuit of a state championship. Camdenton’s Spencer Melville, Osage’s Ethan Kline and Versailles’ Ori Bartlett and Garrett Boatright punched their tickets to play in the premier event of the season and time will soon tell if the ball rolls their way at the end of two days.
Melville will be playing in his first state tournament for the Lakers and the feeling of qualifying is something he will not soon forget. However, what may be even more exciting is the fact that he will have two more opportunities to return.
“I’m not surprised, but it is overwhelming because I’m a sophomore and I’m going to go up there and play my game,” Melville said. “I’m not going to worry about anything because I know I got two more shots at it. I just have to prepare myself and play as hard as I can.”
Melville may officially be a sophomore, but Camdenton coach Shawn Maschino said he certainly doesn’t play like one with a resume that goes back seven or eight years.
“Golf is a little different because you got guys that start off young and you can tell the difference between them and a kid that starts out in ninth grade,” he noted. “I’ve seen him grow this year, take certain situations and do the best he could in that situation.”
Melville admitted there were some rough patches at the sectional tournament where he finished tied for 16th amongst a field of 50, but he stayed calm and all that mattered was making the cut. Maschino had no doubt in what the golfer was capable of.
“I told him before the sectional tournament that I believed in him. I’ve seen him put together solid 9-hole scores and with 18 it kind of stretches out and there are more chances for peaks and valleys, but he finished strong.”
And now, the Class 4 state tournament awaits at Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City and Melville will look to stay calm and collected when he tees off Monday morning.
“I just need to play golf and that is really all I can do. I’m thankful for coach because he has given me the opportunity to play four different courses throughout these past four days,” Melville said on Friday.
“If I keep my head straight, I know I can play good golf.”
It will be a new experience for the young golfer, but it will also be a new experience for Maschino who will coach his first state golfer in just his second year as the head man for the Lakers. The setting may be different, but the coach noted that the game remains the same and how important it is to be observant.
“It has been a learning experience last year and this year, but golf is golf. It is 90 percent mental so you have to keep your head about you, be a thinker on the course and see everything around you- the wind, type of cut you’re in and what kind of light you have,” Maschino said. “I’ve been putting him in situations hopefully where he has to think and pick the best shot.
“This week he has done a really good job of picking out targets and staying focused in on making pars. You don’t need anything great and if you make some pars and a bogey along the way that is ok. Don’t lose your head over it and just go to the next hole.”
The state tournament may be new for Maschino, but the coach noted he has never been alone in his coaching endeavors with the help of his assistant Jason Horne.
“I am very grateful to have Jason. He brings 11 years of golf coaching experience to the program and he’s been my go-to guy during the past two years,” he said. “He’s been to the state tournament probably eight or nine years and his experience is very valuable.”
Melville is ready for whatever happens, but he certainly would not mind making All-State and bringing a medal back to the Lake.
“I’m proud of myself. If I go up there and I play good, I play good,” the sophomore noted. “If I don’t play good, it is what it is, but if I do medal it will be awesome.”
The hard work has paid off for Osage sophomore Ethan Kline.
Throughout the season, his main focus was to score during a round by picking up some birdies instead of settling for pars and now, he will be competing in his first state tournament.
“It is the beginning and it sure is not the end so there is still more golf to be played and I’m happy I got there,” said Kline who still has two more years left as an Indian. “It took a lot of hard work and support from family, coaches and members of the golf team.”
Osage sent all five golfers to a Class 3 sectional tournament in Marshfield where the Indians competed as a team, but Kline was the only golfer to make it through with a round of 76 to finish eighth as a few others narrowly missed the cut.
“It is great to be back at state again. I’m sad that I could not get back there with Jacob again this year and he had a great season,” Osage coach L.J. Weeks said of the senior who finished fifth in the state a season ago. “But it has been a joy watching Ethan play this year and I think he is going to do well on Monday and Tuesday.”
For Weeks, that joy comes not only comes from Kline’s skill, but his dedication to the game. For the final show of the year, the coach will do everything he can to help his golfer stay on top of his game.
“His game is really complete from tee to green. He plays year-round and is used to playing in big tournaments so this is nothing new for him, which certainly helps with the nerves,” the coach pointed out. “I’ll walk with him Monday and Tuesday and my job is to help keep the mood light. The nice thing with state is that there is no cut so you don’t have to worry about shooting a number and can be a little more aggressive. That is also part of my job is to keep him being aggressive because he plays better when he is so encouraging him to do that I think will help things.”
Weeks said the overall message going into state is for Kline to just believe in himself and stick to his game. The sophomore certainly intends to do so when he heads out to a familiar course at Old Kinderhook Golf Resort in Camdenton and battles for a state title.
“Fairways and greens, fairways and greens and limit the putts,” Kline said of his approach. “I’m pretty happy representing Osage and I cannot wait to make them proud.”
Versailles will not have one, but two golfers heading to state after juniors Ori Bartlett and Garrett Boatright took care of business in Class 2 sectionals on their home course at Rolling Hills Country Club.
“It is very exciting to have two kids and it is always better with more than one because they will have each other around,” Versailles coach Chuck Campbell noted. “I’ve been around a long time and teammates at state tournaments always make this better. It has been a while since we had two and I could not be happier for both of them.”
And perhaps it is no surprise these two particular Tigers made the cut as the two golfers and their fathers have played together in previous summers. They both shot an 85 to tie for sixth place and qualify amongst a field of 50.
Boatright will be making his first appearance at state after missing the cut by just five strokes as a sophomore. He was determined to change that narrative in his junior campaign and succeeded in doing so.
“I told myself you will make All-District, sectionals and get to state by God,” Boatright said. “It is a really cool honor to have as a junior and having my good buddy with me makes it even better.”
Although he had spent quite a bit of time working on his game in the past, Boatright said he took a break to focus a little more on basketball this past year but was glad that his swing was not too rusty.
“I ended up getting my swing back and my swing was better than ever for some reason. It was more powerful, accurate and consistent and I’m lucky to have my swing back and everything,” Boatright said after his eight-month break. “My family helped me out getting me back to where I needed to be to make it to state and fulfill my goal. After basketball, we started right at it and now we are here.”
Campbell saw that swing improve and commended his grit and determination out on the course to become a state qualifier
“Garrett got to playing better as the season went along so it was nice to see him continue on both times in districts and sectionals,” the coach said. “He had a rough round the first time he played (first nine holes) and did better the second time, kept grinding and good things started to happen.”
Bartlett became a two-time state qualifier after another successful sectional tournament and he is glad to be back. His introduction to the sport came from his grandfather, who has since passed away, so that is precisely who he thinks of every time he steps on the greens.
“I thank my grandpa because he got it all started and took me out to play as a little kid,” Bartlett said. “So I wanted to play and make him happy. Now, I am trying to play as best as I can for him after practicing all summer and playing in some tournaments to get better so I can do good for the school.”
Campbell is certainly not surprised to see the golfer make his return among the best of Missouri because of that hard work.
“He just works. He has been there before and he was able to make it back again because he works so hard to put in the practice time,” the coach said. “When practice is over, he is still hitting balls and I’m proud of him.”
Now, the coach is looking forward to seeing what both Tigers can do when tournament action gets underway on Monday at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield.
“Ori has been there so he knows what it is about. The first time at state is a different animal so with experience you are a little better prepared,” the coach said. “It is Garrett’s first time so it may be a little nerve-wracking, but both are just juniors so it will be a good experience for both of them and next year also.”
Boatright has no doubt of the talent he will be up against, but he is planning to make the most of the next two days as he represents his hometown and he is also excited for the future.
“There are lots of guys there much better than I am or probably ever will be. All they do is golf so I’m going to go out there, play my game, have a good time and make the best of it,” he said. “Versailles will always be close to my heart and to represent a town like that and a community that is so close together is a huge honor. I’m glad I was able to put Versailles back on the course and next year will be even better with the freshmen coming up that work hard.”
As for Bartlett, the junior said he is confident in his ability and noted that the biggest factor going forward is his mentality. No matter what, he knows he has plenty of support behind him.
“I love how Versailles in general supports me so much. Last year, they had a little parade for me to celebrate me going to state so it is a good feeling and I’m glad to represent,” he said. “I love them all and it is such a great community.”