George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Once per season, the Havre High boys and girls golf teams get to take a break from the buses, the road and the prospect of playing unknown golf courses. That one-week break is the Havre Invitational, and this year, the Blue Ponies’ home golf tournament will be ex t ra - s p e c i a l , b e c a u s e t h e tournament will be played on a brand, spanking new nine-hole course. On Saturday, the Ponies will host the first-ever Havre Invitational at Prairie Farms Golf Course east of Havre. Prairie Farms, which opened its doors in May of this year, will be a new and exciting test for not only the HHS golfers, but for the tournament’s usual participants as well. “I am really excited about playing the tournament at Prairie Farms,” HHS head coach Karla Bolken said. “The course is still in really good shape, and it’s definitely a challenge. So I think it’s very exciting and it’s going to be a lot of fun.” Of course, the HHS players already know the course well. The Ponies have been practicing at Prairie Farms several days a week since early August, so despite the new venue, HHS still has a distinct home-course advantage. But that advantage might be marginal considering some of the talent that will be in the tournament on Saturday. Besides the HHS teams, the Havre Invite will also feature golfers from Great Falls High and CMR, as well as teams from Lewistown, Browning and the Chinook’s Consolidated School D i s t r i c t f r o m s o u t h e r n Saskatchewan. “I’m not sure of the Great Falls schools are just bring JV kids or if they will have some varsity players,” Bolken said. “But this should still be a very competitive tournament.” And as in years past, both HHS teams should challenge for top honors on Saturday. The HHS boys are off to a solid start this season, led by junior Jeremy Jensen, who has been the most consistent of the HHS players. Junior Myles Mazurkiewicz has also earned two Top 10 finishes so far this season, and Jensen is coming off a win at the Browning Invitational. Senior Dan Pizzini and sophomore Brett Normandy round out HHS’s lineup. “Our boys team hasn’t been as consistent with their scores as I would like to see, but they are still golfing well right now,” Bolken said. “I think Myles has done really well. He has some really good rounds.” On the girls side, HHS has a veteran team, and the Ponies are starting to look like the defending Central A champions. Senior Stacey Sheppard, fellow senior Haley McLain and junior Tabitha Beck all have Top 10 finishes to their credit this season, and Beck just captured first-place honors in Browning. And Danika Patterson has improved tremendously from her rookie season until now. “Our girls team also has been a little inconsistent,” Bolken said. “But then again, all four of them have been shooting scores that are better than what we thought they would at the beginning of the season, and Danika’s scores have really come down from last year. So they are doing well right now.” And four is the magic number for both HHS teams. Because of low numbers, HHS is carrying just four varsity golfers instead of five, meaning that in the post season, the Ponies will not be able to throw a score out in team competition. Still, Bolken said that the season has gone just fine so far. “I think it’s going good,” she said. “Of course, you always want to have that fifth score because you never know when you’re going to need it. But we have some good players who are playing well right now, so everything is working out fine.” As for Saturday, Prairie Farms will present a stern test for all players. The par-36 layout isn’t particularly long, even from the back tees, but hitting the fairway is critical because the course is lined with large cottonwood trees, plenty of lateral hazards and even environmentally protected areas. Despite having large, expansive greens, the course is also defended by those very greens because of the contour of each one and the speed in which the ball rolls. The 18-hole Havre Invitational will begin with shotgun start at 9:30 a. m. on Saturday.