Sterlington High freshman Garrett Dolecheck finished in the middle of the pack in the Division III State Golf Tournament, held Monday and Tuesday at Easr Ridge Country Club in Shreveport.
Dolecheck shot 80 in the first round, before struggling to an 86 over the final 18 holes.
“I was fighting my swing both days,” Dolecheck said. “My swing went from good at regional to bad at state. I just couldn't find anything. It started to come together a little at the end. The last four holes, I actually played pretty well.”
Monday marked Dolecheck's first time to play the East Ridge course.
“It's a tough course,” Dolecheck said. “You have to play it a lot to figure out every little thing.”
Playing on its home course, Calvary dominated the team and individual standings. Sam Burns edged out teammate Nathan Jeansonne 140-141 for medalist honors. Ryan Alford shot 147, enabling the Cavaliers to claim the top three spots.
Calvary finished with a team score of 583. Loyola was a distant second at 630, followed by University at 657.
Dolecheck, who finished tied for 21st out of 48 golfers, was the only Panther to qualify for the event. While he would have preferred to place higher in the standings, Dolecheck realizes he will have more opportunities in the future.
“It was a good experience,” Dolecheck said. “I still have three more years to work on it.”
Dolecheck qualified for state with a strong showing at regional. Carding a 74, Dolecheck finished tied for second in the Division III/Region I Tournament, played Thursday, April 25 at Links on the Bayou in Alexandria.
Kyle Camp of Notre Dame was the individual medalist with a 72, two strokes ahead of Dolecheck and Eric Ricard of Loyola Prep. Nathan Jeansonne of Calvary Baptist and Micah Goulas of New Iberia Catholic tied for fourth at 75.
Calvary shot 311 to win the team trophy, 14 strokes ahead of Loyola and Menard.
Dolecheck said he went into the tournament expecting to play well as he was familiar with the Links on the Bayou Course.
“I wasn't really surprised by how I played because I've played there in the past and know the course pretty well,” Dolecheck said. “It's a wide open course. On your drive, you can just rip it without having to worry about where it's going to go too much.”
Dolecheck says he started playing golf five or six years ago. Among his career highlights is a second-place finish in a Future Tours Championship tournament in Greenville, Miss.
Dolecheck says the key to his game is his driving ability.
Page 2 of 2 - “I can drive the ball pretty well,” Dolecheck said. “Chipping and putting are definitely my weaknesses. I'm getting better, though.”
Dolecheck played football and baseball until recently, but now specializes golf.
“This year, I gave up football and baseball to focus on golf. It's my best sport,” said Dolecheck, whose older brother, Kyle, is the starting catcher for the Sterlington High baseball team.
Dolecheck has signed up for the American Junior Golf Association summer tour. Among the tournaments on his summer schedule is the Future Masters in Dothan, Ala.