BY JEFF FALK
NORTH LEBANON – If you care it matters.
If it matters it’s important.
If it’s important you’re motivated to do well.
At Eastern Lebanon County High School, the Raiders care about golf.
On Monday afternoon during the annual Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championships, contested at par-72, 5,734-yard Pine Meadows Golf Course, it was very apparent how much the game mattered to Elco. Paced by medalist Cody Tobias’ one-over par 73, the Raiders totaled 235 strokes to win the team championship for the first time in the history of the event.
Elco’s aggregate score was 22 shots lower than runner-up Annville-Cleona’s total of 257. Palmyra finished third with a team total of 259, followed by Cedar Crest and Northern Lebanon.
On the individual side, Tobias bested teammate Ryan Woelfing’s 78 and Palmyra’s Andrew Alquist, who fired a 79. Falcon Nolan Hoover came in fourth with an 80, while Elco’s third ‘counter’ Blaine Weaver, carded an 84.
In the girls’ competition, Skylar Hanford of Cedar Crest recorded a 98 to edge runner-up Kelsey McDonaghy of Palmyra by four strokes. For Hanford, it was her second straight county title.
“Not as good as I’d like to see,” said Elco head coach Dave Meyer of the overall state of golf in Lebanon County. “I don’t want to down the younger generation, but it’s a hard sport to master. You just can’t go out and pick up a golf club and play well. I’d like to see more participation.
“I’m disappointed with the number of players at the younger levels who don’t know the rules,” continued Meyer. “Golf is one of those rare sports where you have to know the rules to play. I don’t think enough of that is taught. What I hear is: ‘It’s too hard. It’s too hot.’ And they have to carry their own bags. To me, that’s a comment on society rather than the state of golf.”
“It’s pretty important to me,” said Tobias, a junior. “When I’m not in the right frame of mind, I can go to the golf course and I’ll feel better. I also play basketball, but I definitely like golf. It’s my favorite sport. No other sport comes close to golf. It’s the sport that’s most important to me.
“For the county tournament, I was hoping to get into a rhythm for Friday (the District Three tournament),” Tobias added. “I think districts is bigger than this. But it’s important to get into a good rhythm.”
For Tobias, who finished fifth at the District Three Championships last season, yesterday was a bit of a roller coaster. He registered five birdies, two bogeys and a pair of double bogeys.
But he was never more than two-over par, and he was never really challenged by the field. Tobias played well from tee to green, but was a bit sporadic around the putting surface.
“I played pretty good,” said Tobias. “I had a couple of shots I’d like to have back. But it’s the best golf I’ve played all year, and it came at a pretty good time.
“When I doubled (bogey) it brought me down a lot,” added Tobias. “I thought to myself, ‘How can I come back from this?’ I needed birdies to get back. So I went into attack mode. That’s the most birdies I’ve had in tournament play.”
“His skill and ability levels are off the charts,” said Meyer of Tobias. “His challenge is how to manage the game. There’s a fine line between being aggressive and being reckless. You’ve got to know when to be aggressive. Cody was managing his game, knowing when to be aggressive and smart. Knowing what’s the smart play and what isn’t.
“He probably is the best player in the county,” continued Meyer. “But in an 18-hole tournament, anything can happen. District is 36 holes, which it should be. And states is 36 holes.”
Tobias certainly got off on the right foot, with birdies on two of his first three holes – he rolled in a 20-foot left-to-right bender at the 304-yard, par-four eighth and two-putted for birdie at the 490-yard, par-five tenth. But he absorbed bogeys at the par-four 12th and the par-three 13th, before a three-putt at the par-four 13th produced his first double.
“I told Coach coming into today, ‘I’m shooting 71 or going high.'” said Tobias. “I knew how soft the course was, so I went after pins.
“I started really well,” Tobias continued. “I knew if I didn’t make too many mistakes I could go low.”
“Cody bested his average,” said Meyer. “Ryan (Woelfing) was right around his and Blaine (Weaver) was a little bit above his. On any day in golf, it can go the other way. It’s one of the hardest things to do well on a consistent basis.”
Tobias got it going again with a 30-foot birdie at the par-four 16th and a two-putt birdie at the difficult par-four second hole, to get his round back to even par. But another three-putt led to another double bogey, at the 365-yard, par-four third hole, before he closed on his round with a two-putt birdie at the par-five fifth hole.
“At first, I thought one of the Elco kids had a really good chance of winning,” said Tobias. “Going through the round, I never got more than three over. I knew if I didn’t have a couple of bad holes in-a-row I’d do fine.”
“We never did,” said Meyer of winning the county team trophy. “I don’t know why. There’s a great line from a Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven. ‘Deserves got nothing to do with it’. These kids deserve to win, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to. We had so many lean years. We had some kids who couldn’t have cared less about golf. They (his current players) talk golf. They practice golf. They’re committed to it.
“I thought we would have a real good year,” Meyer continued. “But in our section, there was a team that was on another level. When you’re good or very good, it’s nice to see a chance to get a reward.”
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Annual Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championship
(at par-72 Pine Meadows Golf Course)
Boys Individual Results
1. Cody Tobias, Elco 73
2. Ryan Woelfing, Elco 73
3. Andrew Alquist, Palmyra 79
4. Nolan Hoover, Cedar Crest 80
5. Eli Setlock, Annville-Cleona 83
6. Blaine Weaver, Elco 84
7. Cole Felty, Northern Lebanon 86
7. Adam Hartman, Cedar Crest 86
7. Mason Moore, Annville-Cleona 86
10. Ben Miller, Annville-Cleona 88
10. Quinton Leonard 88
12. Nick Georgelis Palmyra 92
13. Ben Miller, Annville-Cleona 98
14. Tyler Bender, Lebanon Catholic 100
15. Seth Walmer, Northern Lebanon 101
15. Andrew Ward, Palmyra 101
17. Willy Earp, Cedar Crest 109
17. Christian Weaner, Northern Lebanon 109
17. Ryan Knapp, Cedar Crest 116
20. Tim Spangler, Lebanon 119
1. Elco 235
2. Annville-Cleona 257
3. Palmyra 259
4. Cedar Crest 275
5. Northern Lebanon 290
Girls Individual Results
1. Skylar Hanford, Cedar Crest 98
2. Kelsey McConaghy, Palmyra 102
3. Amber Kintzer, Northern Lebanon 103
4. Danika Boltz, Elco 105
5. Delaney Hess, Annville-Cleona 120
6. Faith Kostow, Lebanon Catholic 124
7. Kerrigan Klopp, Cedar Crest 133
8. Emma Dissinger, Cedar Crest 141
8. Annika Neufeld-Kreider, Cedar Crest 141
Past Lebanon County Scholastic Team Golf Champions
2016 – Elco
2015 – Cedar Crest
2014 – Cedar Crest
2013 – Cedar Crest
2012 – Northern Lebanon
2011 – Palmyra
2010 – Palmyra