Cole Herbel, Legacy High's standout senior golfer, gained a new outlook on the game last season.
Forced to sit out due to transfer rules, Herbel said not being able to compete in varsity meets was tough, but also opened up other opportunities.
"It offered me a new perspective just in terms of getting to know my teammates and looking at the game in a little different way," Herbel said. "It also showed me that the urge to compete was definitely there. That was probably the hardest part."
Herbel transferred from St. Mary's to Legacy after his sophomore season in order to pursue additional academic offerings available at Legacy.
Sabers golf coach Justin Zainhofsky said Herbel fit right in.
"Cole's just a nice young man. He gets along with everybody," Zainhofsky said. "We have a pretty young team and to have a guy like Cole on the team is really nice. He's very intelligent about the game. It's nice to have a guy that our younger kids can look up to and learn from."
Herbel heads into today's Class A state golf meet at Bois de Sioux Golf Course in Wahpeton with two wins on the season, including last week's West Region meet in Dunseith.
Herbel and Century senior Zach Johnson each have two victories this spring and are tied for second in scoring average at 73.88. Minot sophomore Gavin Argent (73.63) tops the region heading into the two-day state meet.
Bismarck’s Tyce Halter (78), Alex Flam of Century (78.5) and Mandan’s Trey Hohbein (79.13) also have scoring averages under 80 this season.
Herbel and his Legacy teammates were getting their first look at the Wahpeton course on Monday during a practice round.
"We'll take a scorecard and take some notes on where you can miss and where you can't and try to apply that over the next two days," Herbel said.
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The East Region is where the golf power in the state lies this season. Fargo Davies, both Grand Forks Schools and West Fargo all have deep squads. Century and Minot are the most likely teams from the West Region to challenge.
Brandon McGarry and Cole Hanson of Grand Forks Central, along with Ethan Olson of Fargo Davies own the top scoring averages in the East Region.
Seeing Herbel in the mix wouldn't surprise anybody.
"Our hope is that he's in contention after Day 1 and come Wednesday he's somewhere in the mix of that top 3 to 5, with the possibility of hoisting the individual championship trophy," Zainhofsky said. "There are a lot of quality players, but certainly we think Cole is right up there."
Regardless of the course or tournament, Herbel takes the same approach.
"I just really try to focus on execution and being 100 percent committed to every shot," he said.
There is no chasing a particular score or place.
"For me and my game I find that I play a lot better when I just focus on hitting good shots and not worrying about what my score is or what place I'm in," Herbel said. "Honestly, I don't focus on that at all. Really, it's just about being 100 percent committed to each shot. If I feel like I've done that, I'll be perfectly fine with whatever happens at the end of the day."
There's already plenty of golf hardware in the Herbel house. Cole's twin sisters Hannah and Leah were the driving force behind Century winning its first state title in the fall. Hannah was the medalist in the state meet, while Leah won the West Region tournament.
"They're the real talent in the family," Zainhofsky joked of the sisters. "Cole's very dedicated to the game and has a great support system from his family. He's like a dream player for a coach."