As much as he likes the game, Legacy senior Cole Herbel wasn't about to say Tuesday was a great day for golf.
The Mandan Invitational tournament at Prairie West started 45 minutes late due to frost problems on the course. And conditions, wind and temperature considered, were probably worse when the final golfer had cleared the course late in the afternoon. By that time the temperature was 54 degrees and southerly wind gusts of up to 28 mph swept the course.
Nonetheless, Herbel ground out a one-under-par 71 to finish first in a field of 57 high school golfers. Herbel said he couldn't ignore the chilly conditions, but he could refuse to let them affect his focus.
"You have to change your mindset. As windy as it was out there, you know some shots are not going to play out the way you want them to," he said. "But you've got to trust that the breaks will even out with the bad bounces."
Minot carded a 320 to win the team title. Magicians coach Shane Hannegrefs said the mental game has been a point of concern all season, all the more so when conditions deteriorate.
"We've talked about that (mental approach) probably more than anything else," Hannegrefs said. "(The Magicians) have done a good job of talking about it among themselves. We made strides in that area today."
Although Herbel's tournament-best 38-33 appears somewhat lopsided, it was a really consistent round. Three bogeys and four birdies added up to a nifty 71.
He has a theory on avoiding big numbers on the scorecard.
"My goal would be to not compound mistakes. ... You take your bogey, clean it up, and move on," he noted.
Counterintuitive though it may seem, Herbel said the rising wind velocity changed his game for the better on last nine holes.
"The wind started coming up on the back nine, and that helped me get my mind off my technique and thinking about hitting the best shot that I could," he said.
All things considered, Herbel said Tuesday's round was his best of the spring, so far.
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He believes it was the byproduct of some extra work he's undertaken.
"I'n trying to get some confidence going on the greens. ... I've put in some major work around the greens, and I think it's helped," he observed.
Herbel was one of only five golfers to break 80 on Tuesday. Minot's Gavin Argent finished second with a 73, followed by Century's Zach Johnson (74), Bismarck's Tyce Halter (75) and Mandan's Trey Hohbein (77).
Minot was the only team to put three golfers in the top 10. Argent was joined by Otto Langhans with an 81 and Jack Dembke with an 82. The Magicians have now won two of their last three tournaments.
Century, which has also chalked up two tournament wins this spring, carded a 326. Mandan, Legacy and Bismarck were all tightly bunched in their battle for third with scores of 332, 336 and 338, respectively.
Hannegrefs said a six-stroke victory over Century is certainly not a comfortable margin.
"We learned there's not a lot room for error," he observed. "Century didn't have its best tournament and they were still close."
Still, Hannegrefs liked a lot of what he saw.
"We improved. It got kind of windy out there and it turned into a grind," he said. "... But we got some of the bigger number off our scorecards today. We're a little closer to putting it together. Our depth is getting better."
"Gavin (Argent) is in a really good groove. He's playing solid golf all the way around," Hannegrefs added. "His consistency, his swing and his demeanor are what's keeping him playing so well."
The next test for the regional teams is the Turtle Mountain Invitational on Saturday at the Garden Gate Golf Club in Dunseith. That's one of four invitational tournaments leading up the the West Region tournament on May 28, also in Dunseith.
Minot will host a May 13 tournament at Vardon Golf Club, the Links of North Dakota at Williston will be the site of a May 17 event and the West Region teams will converge at Dickinson on May 24. The Dickinson tournament replaces one that was knocked out by inclement weather last month.