By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The Havre High School golf team will have one final tuneup before it hosts the Central A divisional tournament at Beaver Creek Golf Course on Oct. 4.
But today's tournament will be no ordinary round of golf for the Ponies as they enter first-round action at the prestigious FlatFish Invitational at Buffalo Hills Golf Club in Kalispell. The FlatFish tourney is a two-day 36-hole stroke-play tournament which is co-hosted by Flathead High and Whitefish High Schools. The second day of the tourney is held at the North Course at Whitefish Lake Golf Club.
"We have really hyped up this tournament to our kids," said Havre High head coach Keith Evenson. "This is a great opportunity for the kids to play on two beautiful and challenging golf courses and against some very good competition, so we are all very excited about it."
The FlatFish tourney will feature all of the Western AA and A division teams as well as the Great Falls schools and possibly Browning. The tournament used to be much bigger, but when golf was moved to the fall only the AA and A schools changed seasons. Without the area Class B and C schools competing, the field has narrowed.
As for the courses themselves, Buffalo Hills can be described best by the second word of its name. There are virtually no flat fairways on the course and there are a large number of either blind tee shots or blind approach shots to uphill greens. The course is also lined with hundreds of pine trees, and the Stillwater River provides scenery and a host of water hazards throughout the layout. Buffalo Hills plays 6,584 yards from the championship tees and just 300 yards less from the middle tees. The women's tees play at 5,323 yards.
Meanwhile, the Whitefish North layout is another of Montana's premier courses and will present all types of challenges for the Pony golfers. The main troubles on the course are the tight fairways lined with towering pine and fir trees. The championship tees play at 6,579 yards while the middle tees are at 6,307. The women's tees play at 5,556 yards.
"I think our boys will be up for the challenge of both courses because they have all seen these courses before and they are strong players," Evenson said. "The girls might be somewhat humbled by the difficulty from the trees and the length, but I think it will be a very good experience for them."
As for the level of competition, Evenson said the two host schools - Whitefish and Kalispell - should be favored. Still, he is not counting out either of his squads.
"I think our boys team has a chance to do very well if they play to their capabilities," Evenson said. "They have all been playing real solid golf right now and hopefully that will continue this weekend."
"The girls are also starting to come on very strong as well," Evenson added. "Their scores as a team are coming down consistently. This is the right time of year for that to be happening."
The FlatFish Invitational was to get under way this morning at Buffalo Hills Golf Club in Kalispell with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. Friday's round at Whitefish North will begin at 7:30 a.m.