The high school golf season will tee off this week, officially opening the 2017-18 high school sports year. The golfers began team practice Monday and some schools had a match as early as Wednesday of this week.
Salem will open on Thursday with a match at the Thorn Springs course in Pulaski County. Glenvar won’t tee off in competition until the Bob McLelland Metro Tournament over two days next week.
The Spartans have five players returning who saw time in the starting lineup last year. Garrison Conner returns after playing number two as a sophomore and number one on the team last fall. While the team didn’t start practicing until Monday, Garrison and most of the better golfers play all year round. This summer Conner participated in the Scott Robertson Tournament among other.
“He’s a solid player,” said Salem coach Thad Snyder. “He’s very mature. We have high hopes for Garrison but I don’t want to put too much pressure on the kids because they put enough pressure on themselves.”
Brian Hutton is a second senior returnee, and juniors Daniel Poff, Johnny Danstrom and Makena Witt also return to the lineup. Those five will be starters while the sixth spot is still wide open at press time.
“I think it’s a pretty solid top five,” said Salem coach Thad Snyder. “When they start playing every day they’ll get better.”
Salem is using Hanging Rock in Roanoke County as its home course this year, as is Glenvar. The Highlanders will have a new coach in Ben Amos, who replaces Karlyn East. Karlyn has taken a job with Roanoke City and will be the jayvee basketball coach at Patrick Henry this winter.
Amos concluded his first year as head baseball coach at Glenvar in the spring, earning Conference 38 Coach of the Year honors. If he can repeat that with the golf team he’ll deserve it, as the Highlanders don’t have a lot of experience and play in the one of the toughest Group 2A conferences in the state.
“I think I can teach the game,” said Amos. “I’m a scratch golfer and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ben was only hired a couple weeks ago and Monday was his first chance to be on the course with the team, which will have seven or eight members. Eddie Ball is the top returnee but Trip Adams, who played second base for Ben on the baseball team, has shown some talent. Freshman Madi Givens also hits the ball well.
Glenvar will open next Wednesday with the Metro, a two day event which will be held at Hunting Hills on Wednesday and Blue Hills on Thursday. Salem will also be in the Metro, and the Spartans will play in the Heritage Invitational on Monday at the London Downs course in Lynchburg. That usually draws over 20 teams, many of the best in the area. Snyder is picking Blacksburg as the team to beat in the Roanoke Valley.
“They’re far and away number one,” he said. “They didn’t lose anyone off a state championship team.”