The short game is where the scoring drops.
It is also where the focus of Fallon boys coach Rich Evans has been during the first several weeks of practice.
Last season the Greenwave’s short game stood in their way of qualifying for the Division I-A state tournament. This year, however, Evans is determined to have his players improve their chipping, putting and overall standing in league play.
Fallon opens the season March 19 at Fernley and March 20 in Dayton. The Greenwave, though, will not host a tournament this season.
“I got a lot of people coming back, two with full-time varsity experience,” he said. “They are working really hard. That state championship team (in 2011) was really hard working, and this team is trying to work just as hard.”
Despite Evans’ concerns with the short game, Fallon does return a pair of veteran players in juniors Jeff Evett and Corbin Waite. As for the other three spots, Evans said they are for the taking.
While those spots are up for grabs, Evans said freshmen Jared Humphries and Raymond Plasse and sophomore Braxton Hunter are showing promise and are pushing the returning JV players for those final varsity spots.
Those battling for a varsity position, including Ryan Stockard and Jake Kirsch, have an opportunity this weekend in Hawthorne as part of a preseason tournament.
“I know who my top three guys are,” Evans said. “The rest is kind of wait and see. We should be pretty competitive.”
Another bonus for Evans, though, is the additional of three assistant coaches, Nate Waite, Ed Plasse and Dennis Rash. In previous seasons, Evans and one assistant, if available, would be on hand to coach about 20 golfers.
This season, though, Evans can break the athletes up into smaller groups for a more hands-on approach.
“Each of us can work with four kids individually and that makes a big, big difference,” he added. “When it was 22 kids and just me, it was hard.”
As for the short game, Evans analyzed last season’s efficiency, or lack of, on the course. As a result, his coaching methods have revolved around more situational chipping and putting.
“We could have been a lot better at chipping and putting,” Evans said. “It’s a big difference with the short game. It’s the short game that scores.”
Standing the Wave’s pursuit of a third state title in program history is defending I-A champ Lowry. The Buckaroos return the core of last year’s team.
“Lowry’s going to be loaded, and they didn’t lose anybody,” Evans said. “We’re hoping to peak right around state time.”