Bulldog duo ready to converge on Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau.

For Mark Martin, it’s a chance to end his prep career on a high note after a couple of near-misses. And for Ben Burris it’s a whole new experience when the two Rolla High School golfers converge on the Dalhousie Golf Club course in Cape Girardeau at the Missouri Class 4 State Tournament.

Martin, a senior, and Burris, a sophomore, advanced to the state meet through last Monday’s Class 4 Section 3 Tournament at the Carthage Municipal Golf Course. Martin shot 6-over 77 and Burris 78 at sectionals to advance.

After playing a practice round on the Dalhousie course on Sunday, Martin and Burris compete in the first round of the state tourney on Monday. The second round is set for Tuesday.

Second Shot
For Martin it’s his second shot at an all-state placement. As a sophomore in 2012 Martin tied for 58th with 83-81-164 in the state meet on the Silo Ridge course in Bolivar.

He missed the state tournament by a single stroke as both a freshman and junior.

“I feel very comfortable,” said Martin, who will follow his brother, Chris, as a member of the William Woods University men’s golf team next fall (Chris graduates this month). “My long game is working very well. And my putting has been good.”

Martin will be joining a William Woods team that is coming off its highest national finish in program history, as the Owls ended in a tie for third place at the 2014 NAIA National Tournament at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Sunday’s practice round will be the first time Martin or Burris plays the Dalhousie course.

“Not much,” Martin said when asked how much he knows about the course. “I know it isn’t a very tight course. It’s more of a links type course; not many trees and lots of native grasses.”

He’s been told that it’s a demanding course, with unique, packed bunkers.

“I would say it’s good (for my game),” Martin said of the course’s characteristics.

An All-Ozark Conference competitor the past three seasons, Martin has experience is some big junior golf events, so nerves shouldn’t be a problem. He’s played in the Missouri Junior Amateur last year and in 2012. And last summer he was also on the Missouri Southern Cup Junior Team, which competed in Mississippi.

“Just playing my best, really,” Martin said of his state tourney goal. “I don’t have a specific goal this year.

“Judging by past years I would say eight-over would probably be all-state.”

Meets Goal
Burris had a solid freshman campaign in 2013, coming on late in that season. And he kept on improving this spring.

He earned All-Ozark Conference Honorable Mention honors by shooting 85 at Rivercut in Springfield. At the district tourney on Old Kinderhook Golf Course in Camdenton last week Burris and Martin placed second overall at 73. And at the sectional meet last Monday Burris earned the final cutoff score to advance to state.

“I felt that was my overall goal,” Burris said of qualifying for the state meet. “I started a little rough and had to work. It was just a lot of mental mistakes.

“Towards the end of the season - right after conference - I put it all together; around district.”

Burris said his short game has been the key lately.

“If I have a strength of my game right now it’s putting,” he said. “It’s been what’s kept me afloat in a lot of tournaments.”

And if he has success in Cape Girardeau Burris said his driver will have to come through.

“Mostly my off-the-tee long game (has been a problem),” he said. “Off the tee is where I generally tend to struggle.”

Burris said he enters state ready to have fun.

“Probably anything in the 70s I’ll be happy with,” Burris said. “But as long as I hit the ball well and am enjoying it, I’ll be happy.”