Considering the Muscatine High School boys golf team is trying to assemble its varsity squad on the fly as it unexpectedly only has two golfers returning from last season, its first meet didn't go too badly.
As has gotten to be custom, the Muskies got to open the season with their annual home Muskie Invitational at Geneva Golf & Country Club in Muscatine.
The Muskies ended up finishing tied with Central DeWitt for sixth in the 13-team event with a score of 365.
"At times, we played pretty good golf," Muscatine coach Scott Schultz said. "But it's the times we weren't playing good golf that hurt our final score. There was some great decision-making at times, but we have to get that going more of the time than just part-time.
"I haven't looked at the final stats, but there were a lot of three-putts and probably one to two penalty strokes (per player)."
Schultz also likes to keep a stat he calls "two chips," to record how many times it takes players multiple tries to chip on to the green.
"Those three indicators (three-putts, penalty stokes and two chips) tell us what our potential was."
Pleasant Valley won the meet with a 316, followed by North Scott (334), Burlington (338), Davenport Assumption (342) and Iowa City Liberty (357) to round out the top five.
PV's Jack Dumas was the event's medalist. The senior shot a 72.
Junior Doug Custis led the Muskies, registering an 84.
"I really started playing well on the back nine," said Custis. "Three birdies on the back nine, you can't complain about that. I was able to control the ball better (as the day went on) and keep it in front of me."
Senior Josh Dieckman, who played in his first varsity golf meet, finished with a 90, Muscatine's second-best score.
"(Josh) had six three-putts and two penalty strokes," Schultz said. "That's eight stokes. That turns a 90 into an 82."
Obviously, there's still plenty to work on for the Muskies and their relatively inexperienced team, but how the team responded to bad shots had their coach and their captain pleased.
"You could hit one bad shot out there and think you're out of it," Custis said. "But then you come back here and look at the scores and realize you weren't. I think that's something everyone will learn, myself included."
Schultz singled out Custis in that regard.
"I was very proud of Doug," Schultz said. "He didn't have his swing (at first), but then he found it and he's playing like he knows how to play. He has that ability to get a lot of birdies on his scorecard.
"He birdied 15, four-putted 16 for a double bogey and turns around and birdies 17. ... He forgot about the (bad shots), and went out and did work on the next hole. That's what I love to see, an ability to have a very short memory."
The two other Muskie golfer to register a score were sophomore Mike Henderson (91) and junior Miles Melendez (100).
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