Stonewall Jackson was at a distinct disadvantage last week in the Northwestern Region golf tournament at Birdwood Golf Club in Charlottesville.
The Raiders had never played on the course and only senior Don Meadows had ever even seen the par-72, 6,256-yard layout. The Raiders were unable to overcome this disadvantage, finishing sixth of six teams and 53 strokes behind defending state champion E.C. Glass of Lynchburg. Stonewall's score of 374 was 33 strokes higher than their Commonwealth District winning score of 341.
E.C. Glass and Albemarle advanced to the state tournament as teams and individuals Chris Hansen, Jeff Casher and Ron Willard of Cave Spring and joined Meadows in advancing to the states.
Meadows fared better than his team, but barely. The senior shot an 84, one of his poorer rounds, but was able, by one stroke, to qualify for the state championships this week at Cypress Point Country Club in Virginia Beach.
"My kids were at a real disadvantage being the only team among the six to have not seen the course," said Stonewall Coach Hilton Martin. "We don't want to make excuses, but it did hurt us.
"However, we were at an advantage the week before when we played the district tournament at Evergreen, where we play all the time, so it's not sour grapes."
A rule change in Virginia before last season said that a team cannot have a practice round on the regional course. After this season, rules can be re-evaluated and Martin says that is one rule he hopes can be changed.
Meadows round included a front nine score of 45, which put him in danger of missing the cut. But he rallied for a back-nine 39 to qualify ahead of four golfers at 85, including Mike Arnold of Potomac. Meadows three-putted eight greens, including six on the front nine and the final two holes.
"The conditions were excellent, but the greens were inconsistent and that was our biggest problem," said Martin. "It's just a five-year old course and the greens will be inconsistent on a course that new. But we were told the greens were fast and they were anything but that. I feel us not really knowing the greens was the major reason our scores were so high."
Potomac, which finished four strokes behind Stonewall Jackson in the district tournament, fared much better as a team. The Panthers finished fourth with a score of 344. Arnold's 85 was the top score for Potomac. Consistency was the Panthers' strong point as Sean Cooney and Brian Howard each shot 86. Chris Olio followed with 87 and Bill Wakefield and Chris Basinger shot 89 and 92 respectively.