Cape golf team showing real promise for 2022 season
The 2022 Cape Henlopen High School golf team includes a large contingent of relative newbies to the squad. Their progress in practice sessions looks promising for the coming season.
Six ninth-graders and two 10th-graders joined seven veteran golfers at the practice range at Rehoboth Beach Country Club, the team’s home course.
Last year was a rebuild, in part because of the pandemic and society’s reaction to it. Shutting down spring sports in 2020 after two weeks of practice meant that the 2021 team was held back from developing their skills. The long layoff was readily evident in the frequently high scores posted last season.
The Vikings finished with a 9-3 match record and a third-place finish in the Henlopen Conference Championship. However, only three Cape golfers competed in the state individual championship tournament. The squad failed to qualify in the team category, which has only happened a few times since I began covering the Vikings in 1999.
Senior Tom Burn and junior Ethan Mercer competed in the 2021 state tournament and expect to lead the Vikings to a better season for 2022. Senior Seth Reynolds also played well in the 2021 Henlopen Conference tournament. Along with fellow seniors Flynn Kalb, Dylan Steinwedel and Jeremy Trost, as well as junior Chris Williams, these veterans should improve from past seasons.
Ninth-grader Jacob Gabbard brings a successful competitive record to the Vikings, including strong tournament play in the Under Armour Eastern Shore Junior Tour as well as the Philadelphia PGA’s Junior Tour Beach Series.
Fellow ninth-graders Will Ciabattoni and Dalen Daminger have been a constant presence at American Classic Golf Course for over a year. They show real potential, along with freshmen Quinn Rae and Bret Miller, and sophomores Tyler Costello and Chris Runde.
Last year’s COVID rules limited participation during matches to six players per team. The rules for this year include a return to allowing two alternates to also play, which provides valuable course knowledge for away matches.
The team also awaits further guidance from Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association regarding the process for selecting players for the 2022 state championship. Last year’s system was a COVID-inspired experiment. A few issues arose, including the use of all posted scores for handicapping and a much-reduced minimum match play requirement.
The 2022 draft rules restore the pre-COVID five-match minimum. The handicapping system changes are also expected to permit the deletion of one or more of the player’s worst scores from the calculation.
Rob Harrod begins his fourth year as head coach, assisted by Bill Geppert, Reed Jones and yours truly. Harrod said, “I am more excited for this year than any other. I was already happy about Tommy [Burn] and Ethan [Mercer] coming back since they played in the states last year. The other returning players are great. And then the new kids made me even more excited about this year. They are awesome, with a great attitude. I am really looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
Harrod also expressed appreciation for the golf community’s support for scholastic golf provided by not only Rehoboth Beach CC, but also Kings Creek CC, The Rookery, American Classic Golf Club and Midway Par 3.
The Vikings will travel to Garrison’s Lake Wednesday, March 23, for the opening match against host Smyrna High.
Taking a load off, literally
At this year’s PGA Show in January, I went to a special presentation by the folks at E-Z-GO, a division of Textron Specialized Vehicles headquartered in Augusta, Ga. The presenters focused on the company’s environmental sustainability initiative, but also reviewed current trends in the golf industry.
Senior Vice President/General Manager John Collins discussed the general uptick in golf participation among all segments, including women, juniors and non-Caucasians. “We’re hoping it’s sticky for us,” Collins said, highlighting that more than 3 million new golfers played in 2020. “We believe it’s sustainable.”
He said golf’s current growth benefits from nontraditional entry points, such as Top Golf, expanded driving range experiences, more par 3 options, 10- to 12-hole course layouts, and more youth golfing initiatives.
Gunnar Kleveland, CEO of Textron Specialized Vehicles, also discussed the company’s environmental progress, which he said was spurred in part by consumer demand for such improvements.
In past columns about E-Z-GO, I discussed the company’s ELiTE golf carts, which use lighter-weight lithium batteries instead of more traditional lead acid designs. Kleveland announced that the company’s environmental initiatives included the wholesale adoption of lithium battery technology throughout Textron’s electric vehicle fleets, from golf to airport operations.
Working with battery makers Samsung SDI, the new golf carts benefit from the switch to lithium in several ways. Each cart is 281 pounds lighter, reducing turf damage. E-Z-GO also calculated that faster recharge cycles save course operators $8.71 per cart per month, helping with cash flow. The company’s new lithium-powered Hauler Pro EliTE for maintenance is more than 550 pounds lighter and can run for 50 miles between charges.
Gasoline-powered carts remain an option. The company’s newest models provide greater fuel economy and lower emissions, in addition to requiring fewer oil changes than past engines.
Not a bad deal, all things considered.