Revenge.

It was a matter of revenge.

For the past few years, the Rolla High School boys golf team thought they had the talent to win the Class 4, District 5 Tournament. However, the Bulldogs never seemed to be able to come with their best when the event rolled around.

It was made even more painful for Chris Martin and Brandon Weaver, now juniors, as they barely missed the individual cut for state each time after strong seasons. Both left with some excruciating story to tell instead of a chance to realize their dreams.

Martin missed state by one stroke each of the previous two years. Weaver had a string a bogeys over the final few holes cost him a season ago.   

However, they used the adversity to make them better. And, this year they unleashed their pent up hostilities on the tournament and its field, claiming the top two spots. Their efforts helped lead RHS to its first district title in boys golf in years.


Revenge.

It was a matter of revenge.

For the past few years, the Rolla High School boys golf team thought they had the talent to win the Class 4, District 5 Tournament. However, the Bulldogs never seemed to be able to come with their best when the event rolled around.

It was made even more painful for Chris Martin and Brandon Weaver, now juniors, as they barely missed the individual cut for state each time after strong seasons. Both left with some excruciating story to tell instead of a chance to realize their dreams.

Martin missed state by one stroke each of the previous two years. Weaver had a string a bogeys over the final few holes cost him a season ago.   

However, they used the adversity to make them better. And, this year they unleashed their pent up hostilities on the tournament and its field, claiming the top two spots. Their efforts helped lead RHS to its first district title in boys golf in years.

“It was awesome,” Weaver said. “I was jumping out of my pants. I couldn’t believe it.”

“I told myself after last year, that I can’t focus on making the Top 10 (the cut for state as an individual); that we have to make it as a team; that I can’t do it alone,” Martin said. “This was awesome. It was great.”

Playing at the Insbrook Resort Golf Course, Martin captured the district championship with a two-over-par 72. Weaver was second with a 75. The scores were quite impressive considering the miserable conditions. Rain, and even hail, in the morning left the course wet. It was cold and windy as well.

“What a one-two punch! I really couldn’t even describe it,” said RHS head coach Zack Nixon. “There were some really tough conditions. It’s a tough course anyway in that it is easy to make big numbers on a hole. There is a lot of in-course out-of-bounds and there are a lot of hazards. It’s a tight course and it was a windy day. They played great.”

Rolla won the 11-team event with a team score of 314, besting Holt (Wentzville) by seven strokes. Washington was third at 322 followed by Rock Bridge at 327, Helias at 338, and defending champion Jefferson City at 340. As the district champion, Rolla is the lone team that advances to state. The ton 10 individuals (Bulldogs excluded) also advance.

“It was just crazy with the ground so wet. It was nuts,” Weaver said. “It would hail. It would rain. There would be good weather then bad. It was a mixture of everything. When schools like Jefferson City, Helias, and Hickman are bringing in scores like that, you know its tough out there.”

The rest of the Bulldogs had a strong day as well. Sophomore Will Baylor had an 83 despite taking a 10 on the last hole. Senior Brock Jones had an 84 and senior Chris Dodge came through with an 88.

“I’m just glad to see them all play so well. They are great players,” Nixon said. “Some of the other teams were surprised, but I wasn’t surprised one bit. We’ve been playing better throughout the season, and I don’t believe we have peaked yet.”

However, at first, the Bulldogs didn’t know if their performance was good enough.

“It was really exciting. It was kind of nerve-wracking too,” Nixon said. “They normally have the giant scoreboard, now they are doing it on computer. So, we thought we had done well, but we weren’t certain. We had to wait for the printout.”

“I knew it was going to be close. I came in and saw that Chris had a 72 and Will said he had an 83, so it depended on Brock, and I have a lot of confidence in him,” Weaver said. “Brock is a steady player. He’s pretty consistent. He hasn’t been playing his best game the last couple of tournaments, but he never brings in a really high score.”

One-two punch

Innsbrook likes to boast about its dramatic elevation changes, its lush vegetation and wildlife areas, and its many lakes. But, for golfers, that translates to lots of hazards to avoid and possible high scores. Both Martin and Weaver said they played conservatively for that reason, and it paid off.

“My main goal all season has been to keep calm and collected. The whole time my goal has been to stay away from doubles and triples, nothing more than 1-over-par on a hole,” Weaver said. “I don’t want to get excited whether I get a birdie or a bogey. I just want to move on to the next hole. Last year, that’s what cost me. I was 5-over with three to play at districts, but I got excited. I made a lot of mistakes like not going through my pre-shot routine. I bogeyed the last three holes and missed out on state. I was inexperienced,” Weaver said.

You could almost see this coming for Martin. He has been firing some great scores over the past couple of tournaments, but has been denied medalist honors only by the likes of Jace Long and Daily Young. This time he would not be denied.

“Oh man, it was an amazing day. I didn’t really make any mistakes. If I did, I recovered great,” Martin said.

Martin said the highlight of his day were not his birdies, but a couple of great recoveries. On hole No. 12, a par-3, he pulled his tee shot out-of-bounds. He recovered by hitting his next shot to four feet and sinking the putt for bogey. On No. 16, Martin thought he had flushed his drive. However, it nailed a tree limb in the tight opening right off the tee box and it dropped straight down into deep rough. After hitting a 6-iron to get out of the rough, he hit his approach, still from 200 yards out, to 25 feet. He sank that putt for a par. 

“It gave me a lot of momentum. I pretty much ran on momentum all day,” Martin said.
Martin had two birdies in the round, both on par-3s. On hole No. 3, he hit his tee shot to 25 feet and sank the putt. On hole No. 6, he hit his approach to six feet and made the putt.
“Any putt I looked at today that I thought I could make, I did make. I putted extremely well,” said Martin, who hasn’t been all that happy with his blade lately. “And, I was chipping it close.”

Weaver also was chipping very well. He said he spent the good majority of the day scrambling for pars. He didn’t have a birdie in his round.

“I wasn’t hitting my irons solidly. You couldn’t avoid muddy lies, and I was having a hard time striking the ball solidly. I never really had that many birdie chances,” Weaver said. The best part of my game was definitely my chipping. It was nuts, I was getting up-and-down from anywhere. It was automatic. I didn’t hit many greens, but I only recall not getting up-and-down once.”

One of the highlights for him was surviving the perilous last hole after what happened last year. This year the last hole had out-of-bounds-left and a hazard on the right. You can’t see the landing area.

“I just poked a drive out there,” Weaver said. “It ended up in some ground-under-repair, but I was able to get it up on the green. That’s when it all sank in for me.”

Yep, he’s headed to state. It’s becoming a family tradition. His sister, Jessica Weaver, led a then fledgling RHS girls golf team to several state appearances just a few years back.

Going to state in ‘08

The Missouri Class 4 State Championships are set for May 12 at Island Green Golf Course in Republic, Mo. With the goal being to make state all year, what’s the goal now?

“I just want to play my best and have the team play their best,” Martin said. “We’ve been playing better as the season goes along, but like I’ve said before, there’s always room for improvement. I don’t think Will or Brock played their best today. Hopefully, we’ll all shoot our best at state and bring home a state championship.”

“Right after districts, we were all very excited. It’s been our main goal all year. Then we went to a restaurant afterwards and talked about it, and said that our goal now has to be to win state,” Weaver said. “Our celebration is over, our whole mindset is now on state. I don’t want to be a team that goes there and is happy to be there and lollygag around and shoot in the 90s. We want to go and win -- bad!”

Team Scores: Rolla 314, Holt 321, Washington 322, Rock Bridge 327, Helias 338, Jefferson City 340, Camdenton 345, Hickman 348, Troy Buchanon 355, Smith Cotton 374, Timberland 388.

Individual scores
1. Chris Martin, Rolla                  72
2. Brandon Weaver, Rolla             75
3. Matt Bushman, Washington         75
4. Patrick Hale, Holt                       76
5. Will Nixon, Jefferson City           77
6. Greg Phillips, Holt                      78
7. Joe Neal, Rock Bridge                 78
8. Alex Noll, Helias                         79
9. Andy Hogenmilller, Wash.           80
10. Clayton Melville, Camdenton    80
11. Andrew McGinnis, Rock Bridge 81
12. Eddie Stahlhuth, Washington      81
15. Will Baylor, Rolla                    83
19. Brock Jones, Rolla                   84
27. Chris Dodge, Rolla                  88