The coach who helped mold the Payson High School golf team into one of the 3A conferences most powerful programs knows what he wants from his crew, now that they are a first-year 4A team.
"To improve each match and make it to state is what we are looking toward," coach Bret Morse said.
With only four Grand Canyon region schools fielding golf teams and the regional championships set for the Longhorn's home course at Chaparral Pines, the golf squad might have a solid shot of reaching state in its 4A rookie season.
Longhorn players received a glimpse of life in the new conference during a three-way meet Sept. 11 at Pointe Look Out Mountain golf course in north Phoenix. In the nine-hole affair, the Horns outplayed both Moon Valley and Sunnyslope. Neither schools are considered 4A golf powerhouses.
In the "play five, keep five scores" format, Payson finished with a match low 198. With a card of 220, Sunnyslope was second. Moon Valley trailed at 222.
On the par 35 course, Brandan Kelley won low medalist honors carding a 36. Trailing Kelley were Billy Bob Hoyt (38), Brad Meyocks (40), Tyler Danielson (41) and Troy Marrs (43).
Morse said the scores were respectable, considering his team had never played the course before.
At the 27-hole Yuma Kofa Invitational Sept. 5 and 6, the Longhorns managed a fifth-place finish battling some of the best big school teams from around the state. The Horns' card of 583 trailed only Gilbert Highland (453), Kofa (464), Chandler Hamilton (473) and Lake Havasu (475).
Although the team managed a top-five finish in the prestigious field, Morse said there was plenty of room for improvement in most individual's play.
"I can only call (their play) decent," he said. "I was much more pleased with the way we played at the Pointe."
In a four-way meet contested Sept. 16 at Troon North golf course, the Horns tallied a 176 to finish as runnersup behind highly regarded Cactus Shadows (149). With a card of 183, Apollo was third. Cortez trailed at 189.
The Longhorns return to action tomorrow (Saturday) at the Westview Invitational near Phoenix. The Horns will not compete again on their home course until Sept. 24 when Chaparral, Coronado and Cactus Shadows visit Chaparral Pines for a nine-hole match.