By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High golfers are going to be put to the test this weekend, playing in back-to-back tournaments today and Saturday.
Despite just getting there Thursday night, both the boys and girls teams are excited to stop hitting whiffle balls and actually be on a real course.
"We're tossed right into it," Havre senior Nick Obie said. "I don't think anybody's in full form yet. The problem is without playing, you lose your feel around the greens chipping and putting."
To keep up with the busy weekend in town, the Ponies will also have their invitational at Beaver Creek Golf Course Saturday. In addition to golf, the high school track and tennis teams also have their invitationals scheduled for Saturday.
Obie said he expects teams like Cut Bank, Shelby, Conrad, Fort Benton, Chinook, Malta and possibly Lewistown to attend the tournament.
In preparation for their home invitational, the Ponies are in Shelby today, making up a tournament originally scheduled for last Friday.
"We haven't had much actual playing but we've been hitting balls for the week," Obie said. "We'll be ready to go (today)."
Most other teams in the state, like Havre, have had little time on the courses. Senior Julie Wagner said Saturday "should be rough."
"We've had one of the longest holdouts because the weather keeps getting cold here. I got on the course for the first time (Thursday)," she said. "We're just starting to swing the club. We've been hitting just on the mats and putting, not much real golfing."
But for Wagner, there is an added incentive to play well on her home course Saturday is her 18th birthday.
Wagner is one of only two seniors returning for Havre this year, along with Katie Miller. The girls' team is the two-time defending divisional champions, with Wagner placing fourth last year. Aside from the two seniors, Wagner said the girls team will is pretty young.
"It's going to be a rebuilding year," she said.
Along with Wagner and Miller, Heather Bowker, Shannon Newth and Amanda Brock hold the varsity spots for this weekend.
While the girls will be young this year, the boys team returns all five golfers from the state champion team last year. Along with Obie, who is the defending state champion, Jason Johnstone, Kevin Harada, Troy Toner and Trent Normandy return. Johnstone tied for second, with Normandy, Harada and Toner each placing in the top 11 at state. Also fighting for the top spots on the team will be Johnstone's brother Jon and Matt Felt.
Looking to Saturday, Obie said the weather may once again be a factor.
"It's supposed to be windy, so that should make it interesting," he said. "Obviously it's our home meet, so we expect to win it, but there's not a whole lot of advantage right now."
Obie said he and his teammates know the Havre course quite well, which he hopes gives an edge to the Ponies.
"We know all the bounces and breaks you're going to get on the course," he said. "The grass is still brown, the greens will be fast, but all in all, it should play like the same old Beaver Creek."
Despite getting on the course for their first tournaments of the season this weekend, only one month remains in the Ponies' season. This leaves the Ponies hoping the weather will cooperate for the next month, which is little time for both teams to accomplish all their goals.
"Our goal is every week we go out we want to win it. But will we? That remains to be seen," Obie said. "We expect to win. We hope to and we want to win state and divisionals again."