This was no ordinary day for high school boys golf at the Crooked Stick Golf Club Invitational in Carmel.
When there’s five top-10 teams competing for a championship, then it shapes up to be a battle to the finish.
Top-ranked Center Grove, No. 2 Carmel, No. 3 Westfield, No. 4 Noblesville and No. 9 Zionsville all know one another very well.
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And with only a few weeks left before the start of IHSAA state tournament, all of those teams are looking to firm up their starting lineups.
Crooked Stick, the home of the 2009 USGA Senior Open and the 2012 and 2016 BMW Championships, presents difficult challenges to professionals and amateurs alike — tall trees, deep sand traps, uneven mounds and plenty of water.
“This is the toughest course we’ll play all year,” said first-year Center Grove coach Matt Rodman.
When the seven-hour, 18-hole outing was complete, Westfield had emerged the winner with a score of 300.
Noblesville (303) was second, Carmel (309) third and Center Grove (310) fourth.
Earning medalist honors with a 1-under-par 71 was Noblesville’s Clay Merchant.
Leading the way for Center Grove were senior Ethan Shepherd and junior Noah Gillard, both of whom shot 77. Sophomores Logan Anderson and Luke DeHaven, who had never played at Crooked Stick, each came in with a score of 78.
“It was a real privilege to play here,” Anderson said. “It’s a really nice course and the greens are hard to putt on. It was pretty wet out there, but I think I grinded through it and put up a decent score.”
Meanwhile, DeHaven, who perhaps wears the biggest smile on the team, also was happy with his day of work.
“I hit the ball well and struggled a little on the last hole, but that’s golf, you know? My short game has really helped. I’ve been putting great and getting the ball close to the hole with my chips.
“I’ve been looking forward to playing Center Grove varsity golf since I was in elementary school or younger.”
Next up for the Trojans is another tough test, the Zionsville Invitational on Saturday.