Billy Bob Hoyt and Brandon Kelley, both 13, returned to the Junior Golf Association of Arizona tournament scene last weekend with a newfound camaraderie.
Last summer, the Payson pair played in different geographical divisions of the JGAA -- Hoyt in north Phoenix and Kelley in Show Low -- but both consistently placed among the top-five finishers.
This season, the two opened youth play alongside one another at Apache Creek Golf Course in Apache Junction.
In an unusual Stableford scoring format, Hoyt finished sixth among a field that included 40 of the best 13- and 14-year-olds in the metropolitan Phoenix area. In the same field, Kelley finished 31st.
By nabbing sixth, Hoyt bested three prime-time golfers he had not previously beaten.
"That was a real positive," said his coach and father Bob Hoyt.
Making the tournament doubly tough on the younger set was the requirement that the 13- and 14-year-olds tee off from the same back tees as players 15 to 18.
Of the 50 entered in the older class, Hoyt's score was better than 35.
The showing by the Payson golfers was impressive considering it's early season and neither has had as much practice time as the Phoenix-area youngsters.
The real kink in the play, other than being a tad rusty, was the Stableford scoring system that had both youngsters and their coaches scratching their noggins.
In the format, the player is awarded points for certain feats.
For example, a double eagle is worth five points and a birdie three points. A par score earns the player two.
Bogeys are valued at only one point and double bogeys or worse have no point value. Hoyt finished with 27 points; Kelley tallied 18.
The first-place winner racked up 30.
Another birdie from Hoyt over the course of the 18 holes would have meant a first-place finish, said his father.
In upcoming tournaments, Tyler Schrum and Tyson McKee are expected to joint Hoyt and Kelley, giving the Rim country a strong contingent of fledgling players on the JGAA tour.