Sam Hoffer realizes how relaxing it is playing golf for Northern these days.
Northern's top player noticed this after he struggled with his driver for much of his round Wednesday at the Calvert County tournament at Chesapeake Hills Golf Club. Despite his difficulties, the Patriots' remarkably consistent play overall earned them their second straight county championship by a 27-stroke margin.
After Calverton junior Luke Moeller shot a 4-over 76 to win the individual title, Northern took the next four highest totals -- Hoffer's 5-over 77, sophomore Chris Speaker's 6-over 78, freshman Kyle Niemann's 7-over 79 and junior Jeff Kingsbury's 7-over 83, which was matched by Huntingtown junior Daryl Kingman.
"If I don't have my best round," Hoffer said, "I don't have to worry about not playing my best. Our team is just so consistent. Every time we put six guys out there, we know we're going to get solid scoring. It's not going to be one spectacular score. It's going to be four real solid scores."
Northern has proved that in the past two weeks, showing that its victory over La Plata -- the Warriors' first SMAC loss in more than two years -- was not a flash in the pan. In three of their four previous matches heading into the postseason, the Patriots finished with team scores under 160.
With each golfer playing 18-hole rounds in the postseason, Northern's consistency might prove even more critical, heading into the District 4 tournament Wednesday at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club.
"It's hard to compare [18-hole play] to a nine-hole match," Northern Coach Rob Halstead said, "because you have more time to make up your mistakes. Still, I'm very pleased with the way we're playing."
At the Charles County tournament at White Plains Golf Course, La Plata had a similarly easy time winning the team title by 19 strokes ahead of Westlake.
Warriors senior Brent Martin, however, had the easiest time, winning the individual title by nine strokes with a 5-under 67. He birdied four straight holes, Nos. 9 through 12.
"That's the best round I've ever had," Martin said. "It made it particularly nice because it happened at White Plains."
When Martin started playing golf six years ago, it was at White Plains, where he said he was "just goofing around."
The St. Mary's County tournament was rained out. Officials tried to reschedule for later in the week, but none of the three schools could find openings in their schedules. The tournament is set for Thursday at Breton Bay Golf and Country Club.