By Brian Hoffman
The first sport to open in the new school year is always golf and the local high school teams are set to tee off on Monday of next week. Glenvar will open with a match at the Hidden Valley Country Club on Monday and Salem will open the season a week later.
The Highlanders have a new coach in Shawn Duff, who replaces former coach Blaine Mills. Blaine coached golf and girls’ tennis teams last year but stepped away to spend more time with his growing family after the Glenvar girls won the state tennis championship in the spring. Shawn and Blaine are friends and Duff will now take over the team this season.
“I’m stepping into a great situation,” said Duff. “Blaine took over a program that had struggled and built it up into a very competitive team. We have a great group of guys on the team and they’ve been making my job easier with the dedication they’ve shown.”
Seniors Jacson Shepherd, Mason Hylton and Brendan Magruder and junior Adam Harvey return from last year’s lineup. Aiden Hylton, Grayson Shepherd and Tyler Smith also hope to see quality time as the Highlanders have some talent and depth.
“We’re looking good,” said Duff. “I’ve never coached golf before but I’ve enjoyed it most of my life and I’m looking forward to the season. I’ve been scouting the courses and we’ve had some practice sessions and play days to get ready.”
Glenvar will share Hanging Rock with Northside as a home course. Next Monday’s match at Hidden Valley will be for the “Roanoke Valley Cup” with a shotgun start at 2 pm. Glenvar will be one of six teams competing.
Salem won’t open until Tuesday, August 9, when the Botetourt Golf & Swim Club plays host to the Metro Botetourt Invitational. The one day tournament replaced the old “Roanoke Valley Metro” last fall and will include most of the schools in the area.
Spartan coach Thad Snyder is at the helm for his 22nd year as head coach and he has a solid returning lineup. The top five are all but set and three of them are girls, with sophomore Kathryn Ha at the top of the ladder. Ha is one of the top female golfers in the state and she had a strong freshman season for Salem in 2021.
Joining Ha in the top five are two other girls, returning starters Macy Johnson, a senior, and junior Taylor Davis. Senior Trey Joyce is a four year starter and he’ll likely play number two behind Ha, with Andrew Rea moving into the five spot.
“Number six is to be determined,” said Snyder. “We have a few kids chomping at the bit and I expect to have a real solid team this year.”
Salem’s home course will be the Hidden Valley Country Club, which they’ll share with Hidden Valley High School. The first River Ridge District match will be Monday, August 15, when Cave Spring hosts the district at Hunting Hills.