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Washington County High School golf coach Bobby Bartholomai is entering his third season at the helm of the boys’ team, but he’s expanded that role to include the girls in the 2012 season after Tom Harman stepped down as head coach this spring.
Bartholomai said the change has had its advantages, particularly in recent practices.
“I’ve been able to mix the guys and the girls together in practice and it’s added kind of a competitive element, which has to be good,” he said. “The guys don’t want to get beat by the girls and the girls really want to beat the guys, so they push each other both ways.”
Both teams had success in 2011, and the boys enter the new season looking to defend their All-A region title, which they took from Bethlehem last season in a playoff.
The girls return the same unit as last year, with the Cox sisters -- Amanda (junior), Emily (eighth grade) and Olivia (fifth grade) -- representing the Commanderettes on the links. Despite a lack of depth on the girls’ team, Bartholomai said they have no shortage of motivation.
“Being sisters, they definitely push each other to be better,” he said. “We’d like to pick up a fourth and even a fifth player for the girls, but it’s been a little tougher to attract girls to golf for whatever reason.”
Three seniors that had a big hand in last season’s All-A region championship boys’ team have graduated, but Bartholomai is excited about the young talent -- 11 players, eight on varsity -- the Commanders return this season.
“The oldest kids I’ve got right now are juniors,” he said. “We had several freshmen come out this year too, so we’ve got a good mix of freshmen through juniors.”
There will be some big shoes to fill this season, but the young Commander squad may be up to the challenge.
“(Junior) Thomas Pettus has been playing the most tournaments, so I expect him to be my top guy, but we’ve got some good prospects,” Bartholomai said. “Michael Wheatley is a freshman who seems to be hitting the ball really well right now. (Junior) J.P. Cecconi has steadily gotten better each year and he’s been getting stronger.”
As the players look to make strides to improve as golfers this season, executing around the green will be key.
“At this level, the biggest thing all of them need to work on is their short game,” Bartholomai said. “Chipping, putting and the wedge game around the green is where their score is decided.”
The teams open their season on Thursday at home against Marion County, and as the season opener approaches Bartholomai said the teams’ success will be determined by how much each player has been working on their game since the conclusion of last season.
“It’s up to the kids and how much they apply themselves,” he said. “How much they play during the summer means a lot in golf. The girls are always playing in tournaments, so they’re steadily progressing each year. We have a couple of the guys who compete in tournaments and the more they compete in the summertime, the more it pays off in the fall.”
Washington County will also host newly-formed Thomas Nelson High School on Aug. 6 and Bethlehem on Aug. 9 before the boys travel to Green County on Aug. 15 in hopes of defending their All-A title.
Other notable dates that Lincoln Homestead will host this season include the girls’ All-A state tournament (Sept. 8), the boys’ and girls’ Heartland Conference tournaments (Sept. 11) and the boys’ regional tournament (Sept. 25).