Of the eight Group AA Northwestern District high school golf teams, only Potomac Falls and Park View have played the Loews Island course. Thus, the Loews golf club's original 18--host site of Wednesday's district golf tournament--remains a mystery.
Whoever solves it will advance to the AA Region II tournament Oct. 19.
The private Loews club in Sterling is the home course for the Panthers (5-2), who were undefeated in district dual meets there this season. Meanwhile, the six other teams--Broad Run, Handley, Liberty, Loudoun County, Loudoun Valley and Warren County--have not been able to even play a practice round there.
"This is the first time since I've been a coach that [that's been the case]," said Gary McKay, who has coached Loudoun Valley for nine seasons. "Potomac Falls has the edge because home course now is more of an advantage."
In the Panthers' defense, three of their four district dual meet home wins came on the Loews club's other course, the River Course; Potomac Falls played the Island Course only once, in beating the Patriots, 169-175, on Tuesday.
"I think it's being a little overdone," Potomac Falls Coach Jeff Hawes said of the Island Course mystery. "That [Island] course eats us alive, too."
Only decimal points in stroke average separate Potomac Falls's top two players, sophomore Dave Guinter and junior Tim Farwell. Hawes also believes that Amanda Diamond, who shot a 37 at Shenandoah Country Club on Wednesday, can be dangerous.
Loudoun County, for one, is not worried: The Raiders gained an automatic berth into regional play by winning two season-opening mini-tournaments and finishing with a 4-2-1 district dual meet record. Seniors Billy Hurley and Kenny Roseberry have led Loudoun County all season. Hurley has turned in 18-hole and nine-hole scores of 71 and 34 at Loudoun Golf and Country Club this season.
"Realistically, the pressure is not on us to qualify," Raiders Coach John Laycock said. "Do we want to win? Absolutely, but the pressure's not on us."
Who is the pressure on? Loudoun Valley, Park View and Potomac Falls.
The Vikings lost a playoff against Handley last season to advance but finished 1999 with a 4-2-1 district record and finished second and third, respectively, at the district mini-tournaments in August. Valley is led by senior Michael Masters.
Park View's chances rest with seniors Patrick Winslow and Bryan Meade. Meade averages 75.4, while Winslow's average is 75.6 this season. Another senior, Chris Marshall, shot a 77 for the Patriots (1-3-3) at the second district mini-tournament at Loudoun Golf and Country Club in Purcellville.
In addition to Loudoun County and the district tournament winner, the six best finishers Wednesday will advance individually to Region II play at Green Hills Club in Standardsville, Va., on Oct. 19.
Liberty (3-3-1) has been led by Coach Paul Frye's nephew, freshman A.J. Krick.
Sophomore J.C. Clark and junior Matt Ryan have been interchangeable as Nos. 1 and 2 at Broad Run (1-6).
The Delaney Athletic Conference tournament is also set for Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Golf Academy at Broad Run outside of Manassas.
Highland School and Quantico are the team favorites. Junior Dudley Payne leads the Hawks, who were 6-1 during the regular season.
"He is a top-notch golfer," Highland's first-year coach Tom Thomas said. "The shot he visualizes on the course, he is able to execute."
Payne's best round of the year was a 2-over 74 at Quantico.
Highland is also paced by three more juniors, Shawn McPherson, Rob Bowman and Steven Knott. The DAC team scores are determined by each school's top three individual rounds.
Payne's top competition for medalist honors will be Quantico junior Tom Lefebvre.
Junior Nathaniel Heigl will lead Notre Dame into the tournament and will play in the Elite 8 event. He shot a 42 at Fauquier Springs on Wednesday in the Dragons' final regular season meet.
Wakefield School's first golf team has sought respectability. Freshman Josh Fitzgerald shot a 50 on the Medal of Honor course at Quantico on Wednesday, which marks a 15-shot improvement.
"We're just trying to get the basics down," Wakefield Coach Steve Jameson said.
"Now that we've improved that, we have to trust those mechanics."
The top DAC individuals will play in an Elite 8 event at Fauquier Springs Country Club on Oct. 20.
Up for Grabs Fauquier (13-12) plays in the Commonwealth District tournament Wednesday at Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, the home course of North Stafford and Colonial Forge.
Sherando and Culpeper are the district favorites.
Unlike the Northwestern District--in which the season-opening mini-tournaments and the regular season record determine one team slot to advance to regional play--all team and individual champions are determined during Wednesday's play.
"In a one-day tournament, anything can happen," said Fauquier Coach Sam Johnson, whose team is led by senior Mike Swan. "Our kids have a chance to sneak in there. We've improved tremendously since the start of the season. Our course management has improved."