The beginning of the boys high school golf season also marks the beginning of changes in the IHSAA state tournament series.
Since 1998, Johnson County’s six teams have played in the 12-team sectional at Hawk’s Tail Golf Course in Greenfield. The top three teams then advanced to the regional at Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood.
In a one-year test realignment by the IHSAA, Center Grove, Edinburgh, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland and six other teams will compete for a sectional championship at Heartland Crossing Golf Links in Camby.
From there, the top three teams will advance to one of five regionals hosted by Providence High School at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Henryville.
Moreover, the state finals has been reduced to 15 teams. The state meet runs June 11-12 at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
Franklin enters the season as the defending sectional champion. The Grizzly Cubs edged Center Grove by a stroke last year, spearheaded by junior Ben Eads and senior Noah Ludwig, who carded 74 and 78, respectively.
Ludwig recently signed a letter of intent to NCAA Division II Georgetown (Ky.).
Franklin also returns sophomores Jacob Hash and Austin Barnhizer.
“As always, I think the county, (Mid-State) conference and sectionals will be very tough,” said eighth-year Franklin coach Curt Holcrof.
The Cubs open the season in a triangular meet against Center Grove and Whiteland on Monday at The Legends.
The reigning Johnson County champion Trojans lost three players to graduation but have a group of underclassmen who have significant postseason experience.
Leading the way are junior Wes Kennell and sophomores Austin Crowder, Christopher Heck and Zack Carabine.
Veteran coach Doug Keller said the team’s only two seniors, Nathan DeSmit and Colby Stewart, also are vying for positions in the starting lineup.
Center Grove plays its season-opener Saturday at the Floyd Central Invitational at Valley View Golf Club in Floyds Knobs.
Coach Doug Weddle said the Lancers will miss the leadership of 2012 graduate Corey Burton, but he still has confidence in a veteran group that includes seniors Caleb Giles, Seth Barrett and Chris Quillen.
Newcomers include senior Riley Price, who was a standout on the Lancers’ varsity basketball team, and freshmen brothers Kyle and Zachary Pendleton.
Edinburgh opens the season Tuesday against visiting Triton Central.
The Lancers also host the May 13-14 Johnson County tournament at Timbergate Golf Course.
With a wealth of returning experience, the defending Mid-State Conference Tournament champion Woodmen are confident of repeating as champions as well as contend for county and sectional titles.
Greenwood was runner-up at last year’s county meet.
The top returners are seniors Chandler Mitchell and Kyle Clark and juniors Kaleb Weddle and Spencer Jackson.
Greenwood opens the season in a dual meet at Mooresville on Wednesday.
First-year coach Kyle Vorhies takes over a program that lost its top player, regional qualifier Jayden Remsburg, to graduation.
The Braves, however, return experienced players in senior Paul Woodworth and juniors Dustin DuFord, Jordan Ballinger and Devin Picionne.
Brown County transfer Ryan Samples and freshman Blake Andrews are expected to challenge for a starting position.
The Braves open the season Monday against Martinsville and Brown County at Foxcliff Golf Club.
With four of five starters returning, the Warriors like their chances of contending for county, Mid-State Conference and sectional championships.
Leading the way are seniors Devon Coulter and Trent McGuire, juniors Jacob Lewis and Colton Buck.
“We are very excited about the prospect of playing our sectional at Heartland Crossing,” coach Tim Fish said. “The course provides a much better test for junior golfers.”