Payson High School’s highly successful golf coach Bret Morse finds himself in a pickle of sorts.
It involves a prep format in which most matches are contested “play five and keep four scores.”
The five refers to number of players and the four is the number of top scores that are used to determine winners and finishes.
Morse’s predicament is that he has only four players on the varsity roster and probably will have to reach down into the junior varsity ranks to pick up a fifth.
“Someone will have to fill that (fifth) spot, probably a rotation,” Morse said.
While the varsity roster situation could be better, the returning foursome is a solid one led by junior Tyler Apps and sophomore Jeffrey Kelley.
Last season, Apps finished third in the state tournament and Kelley was seventh.
Kelley also has some Longhorn pedigree being the younger brother of Brandon Kelley who starred for Payson High before going on to play collegiately.
Morse says Apps and Kelley, “Will anchor the team.”
Rounding out the core of the varsity squad are Anthony Smith and Cody Bossert.
Both saw limited varsity action on last year’s state runner-up team, which lost three players to graduation with the Class of 2010.
Making up the junior varsity squad are Kelsey Bossert, Tyler Croy, Matt Joerns, Tod McCarthy, Katie Schouten and Chans Belcher.
In looking down the schedule road, Morse predicts it “could be a challenging year to qualify for the state tournament coming off back-to-back state runner-up finishes.”
For the upcoming season, the team will compete in a new AIA mandated format that did away with regions and conferences, replacing them with divisions and sections.
That realignment, Morse said, “Quenches some of the great rivalries we have established.”
Under the old region format, teams could qualify for state by finishing among the top four in the regular season-ending regional tournaments.
But this year, teams must hit qualifying scores in at least five matches to reach the Division III or state tournament.
For reasons known only to AIA bigwigs, prep golf teams were not assigned Sections as were team sports. Payson was assigned only to Division III.
Morse and other coaches say they are not certain how that will pan out as the season moves along.
The Longhorn season teed off March 10 at home. The team will travel to the Thatcher Invitational March 19.