There is a good chance senior Jacob McCarty will finish his career having never played a varsity match for the Center Grove High School boys golf team.
Same is likely true for classmate Cameron Milhoff.
With no less than 14 players of comparable skillsets on the Trojans roster, the defending IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals runners-up compete using what’s referred to as Red, White and Black teams at various matches.
As a player such as McCarty illustrates, quality attitude is as important as quality shot-making.
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“I’ve played varsity all four years. I’ve spent my time trying to push the top five to just make them really work for their spot,” McCarty said. “A lot of it’s been that I enjoy playing golf and being with my teammates.
“The camaraderie on this team is unbelievable. Going to practices and matches is something you look forward to every day.”
Center Grove’s “Red” squad is made up of the top five players — junior Ethan Shepherd, sophomore Noah Gillard, seniors Tyler Rankel and Jackson Williams and sophomore Sam Jean.
The team is ranked second in the state coaches’ poll.
Meanwhile, McCarty, Milhoff and others vying to be part of the Trojans’ second five, or “White” team, hone their skills in anonymity.
Yet these players serve a very important purpose.
Trojans coach Jim Williams, who is fond of the saying “iron sharpens iron,” fields a team in which only 10 shots separate the player with the lowest 18-hole average (Shepherd) from that with the 10th-lowest (McCarty).
Center Grove’s “Black” team is comprised of players whose 18-hole scoring averages rank Nos. 11 through 14.
Recent surges by freshmen Logan Anderson and Luke DeHaven — top ‘White’ team players most of the season — have given the Trojans a solid top seven. Whether one or both eventually works his way to permanent Red status remains to be seen.
Having three teams has created minor confusion in the past.
Once during both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Williams discovered all three of the teams had been scheduled to play at different tournaments on the same Saturday.
This forced him to tinker with this season’s schedule, though on Saturday the Red team played an event in Carmel while the White squad competed at the Bloomington North Invitational.
Overall this season, the Red has been part of seven events, the White five and the Black four.
“I want to try to get as many kids playing in tournaments as we can. Our school has been great about it,” Williams said. “We pushed most of our (regular-season) schedule onto Saturdays so the kids can play in 18-hole tournaments.”
McCarty said he believes Center Grove would have what it takes to add to the postseason drama if it could play two teams instead of one.
“I’m pretty confident that we could place,” McCarty said, referring to the state finals June 14 and 15 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. “The only bad part is we would probably have to go against our own team.”
Sort of the way they do at practice.
“It’s a deal where they just keep pushing each other every day,” Williams said.
Center Grove’s top players based on the most recent match and practice scores per 18 holes: