Golf matches aren't played in tightly-packed, bandbox gymnasiums that give the home team a 10-point advantage.
Yet, when four nine-hole scores are tallied at the end of a match, the home course can be a significant advantage. "It can mean a difference of 20 strokes," said Bob Menefee, golf coach at Robinson High School.
Earlier this season, Robinson (4-2) beat previously undefeated Oakton at the Country Club of Fairfax, Robinson's home course.
"Fairfax is a tough course," Menefee said. "It's up and down, and the greens are slick. Twin Lakes is an easier course."
On the more difficult course, familiarity was Robinson's ally -- the inflated outcome was 167-170.
And that also explains why Menefee doesn't like Robinson's chances today against Oakton (7-1) in this afternoon's Northern District championship at Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes is Oakton's home course.
Conversely, the home-links advantage has given Oakton's coach, Frank Autry, reason to be optimistic about his team's chances in the district match. "Robinson beat us, but the scores were high," said Autry.
Sophomore Chis Turner is Oakton's strongest individual golfer, although Blake Cleary owns the best round for the Cougars this year; he shot a 34 and combined it with three rounds of 36 for a school record 142 against Parkview.
Robinson's upset was no fluke; its losses were to West Springfield (6-2), 154-158, and to Groveton (7-0). "We've got three golfers who shoot consistently between 38 and 42," said Menefee.
Bobby Sullivan, Steve James and Mark Jansen are a solid three, but Menefee knows that a fourth player must perform this afternoon if the Rams are to be competitive with West Springfield. Sullivan is a son of Springfield Country Club pro Quinn Sullivan.
At West Springfield, Coach Bill Lovell has mixed the talents of his seasoned four-year letterman and captain, James McCardle, with six sophomores. Bill Carlstrom, Rick Elmendorf and Bill Brum have performed well enough throughout the regular season to make West Springfield competitive.
If Oakton wins the distict playoff, the Cougars most likely will meet Langley, the top team in Northern Virginia, in the regional competition.
Langley (5-1) won the Virginia state AAA championship last year, and Oakton finished nine strokes back.
Langley has won the Great Falls' district title the last four years and the regional championship the last two. However, Coach Sonny Chisholm admits the Saxons' foursome might not be as sound as in years past. The Great Falls tournament was held yesterday.
Seniors Peter Costolanski, Doug Brown and Park Ashley are back at Langley but Chisholm is still searching for a fourth player who can help in the district, regional and state competition.
"For the past few years, we've been very, very good," Chisholm said. "But I'm trying to find a fourth guy. I'm trying to find a guy who can play under pressure and turn in some good scores in tournaments. I know what the top three can do for us. Tournaments are really what counts in high school golf."
Chisholm has his mind on postseason tournaments, but he's taking them one at a time.
"The regional tournament is the most important for us," he said. "If we don't finish first or second there, we don't go to the states. Oakton is very good, and I'm concerned with Herndon."
The other serious contenders in the Great Falls District are Herndon (7-0) and Madison (6-2). The Hornets are led by Craig Montgomery, who was the medalist in Saturday's Quantico Invitational. Madison's success is due to seniors Paul Donohue and Robbie Thornhill and freshman Jess Hatch.
The Gunston District tournament scheduled for Blle Haven Monday was postponed because of rain. The tournament was not immediately rescheduled, but when it is played, Groveton should be the favorite.
Coach Bob Tolley has called the foursome of seniors Chris Ries and David Humphreys, and juniors Steve Eryan and Tim Smith, "the best team I've ever had at Groveton." The Eagles finished 7-0, including a nondistrict victory over West Springfield.
Hayfield and Mount Vernon were expected to vie for the second Gunston berth in the regionals.
The Potomac District tournament, also rained out Monday, was rescheduled for yesterday at Chantilly. Chantilly (6-2) and Fairfax (5-1) are the strongest teams, but Fred Widicus of Jefferson is probably the strongest individual golfer.