Seniors spur Spartans to invite title

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Grundy Center senior Jesper Holke-Farnam pumps his fist after sinking a birdie putt on the ninth green to finish his round at the Spartan Invite on Saturday at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Holke-Farnam shot an even-par round of 72 for medalist honors and Grundy Center won the team title with a 338 score.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Grundy Center senior Jesper Holke-Farnam pumps his fist after sinking a birdie putt on the ninth green to finish his round at the Spartan Invite on Saturday at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Holke-Farnam shot an even-par round of 72 for medalist honors and Grundy Center won the team title with a 338 score.

GRUNDY CENTER — Jesper Holke-Farnam made an example out of himself.

The Grundy Center senior wants to leave the Spartan boys’ golf program with its strong tradition intact, and he used his struggles on the sixth hole on his home course to talk about what it’s going to take for that to happen.

Holke-Farnam had his first three-putt of the season the first time through the par-3 sixth hole during Saturday’s Spartan Invite at Town & Country Golf Club, and he followed it by playing the next three holes at 1-under-par. The second time around, Holke-Farnam burnt the edge of a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 5, dropped his tee shot in Arens Pond on No. 6 for his first hazard ball of the spring, and again responded by going 1-under on the home stretch.

An 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth — his 18th hole — went kerplunk, and Holke-Farnam had medalist honors in his last home invitational.

More importantly, he said, was the fact that his even-par 72 contributed to Grundy Center’s team victory and that it hopefully helped to guide the Spartans’ younger players for the future.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • BCLUW’s Brad Barkema tries to coax his par putt into the cup on the ninth green during the final round of Saturday’s Spartan Invite at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Barkema led the Comets to a third-place team finish with his fifth-place round of 84.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • BCLUW’s Brad Barkema tries to coax his par putt into the cup on the ninth green during the final round of Saturday’s Spartan Invite at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Barkema led the Comets to a third-place team finish with his fifth-place round of 84.

Grundy Center shot a collective 338 to outlast Roland-Story (345) for the second-straight year, winning the annual Spartan Invite. Holke-Farnam was medalist, Jake Bangasser won the first hole of a sudden-death playoff for second, and the Spartans beat the rest of the eight-team field in perfect playing conditions.

“The weather was the best part of the day,” said Holke-Farnam. “I don’t care that I shot a 72, it was beautiful out here. Normally [the weather for] the Spartan Invite is absolute crap.”

Holke-Farnam had three birdies and three bogeys throughout his even-par round, twice chasing away bogeys on No. 6 with pars on the par-4 seventh. He birdied No. 8 in his first round, and then bookended his back nine with birdies on Nos. 1 and 9. A consistent day off the tee box and a short memory paved the way to his medalist round.

“You’ve just got to move on,” he said. “If you have a bad hole, you can’t get hung up on bad shots. You’ve got to keep moving on. It’s not easy; it’s never easy.

“It means a lot, being a senior and winning your own tournament is nice.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

It was the first 18-hole tournament of the season for nearly ever team in attendance, and it showed for most of them. Not even the host Spartans were immune, but a relatively inexperienced roster is reflective of why.

“It’s our first 18-hole meet, and four of our six players this year have never played in an 18-hole tournament before,” said Grundy Center head coach Dennis Dirks. “It’s a learning curve right now for our team.

“Jesper and Jake, the two leaders of this team, have to play well from meet to meet in order for us to have a chance, and they did today. We just have to hope the other four can find their way, take baby steps each day in practice so that maybe by the end of the season we’ll be playing the type of competitive golf we like to play here at Grundy Center.”

Spartan junior Nolan Freeman, who golfed as a freshman but not last season, was the third scorer for his team with a 93. Sophomores Tanner Appel and Matthew Sternhagen shared the fourth score honors at 95. Braidan Buhrow, a senior in his first 18-hole event, shot a 102.

“Things didn’t look too pretty right off the bat, but we came in with some scores at the end and [Roland-Story] lapsed a little bit,” Bangasser said. “It’s always nice to win. This is one of our biggest goals at the beginning of the year is to win this one because it’s our home 18-hole meet. It’s important to us to get the first 18-hole meet of the year and play well in it.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“Our younger guys are inexperienced in 18-hole meets — this is the first for a lot of them. We didn’t have all the scores we’d hoped for, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. These guys are trying. It’s a grind to play 18 straight holes and it’s going to take some time to get used to, but hopefully by building up with all these meets throughout the year we can get a good score when it matters later on this season.”

The Spartans have 18-hole events scheduled for Monday at Aplington-Parkersburg, April 29 at the Waterloo Columbus Invitational, and May 6 at Waterloo Christian’s tournament. Grundy Center also hosts sectionals on May 12, so the opportunities to improve are ample.

Fellow NICL West Division schools BCLUW and Gladbrook-Reinbeck will be looking to make similar strides after Saturday’s tournament. BCLUW finished third with its 371 total, while Gladbrook-Reinbeck regressed to a 382 for fourth. GMG came in seventh with a 419 total.

BCLUW was paced by Brad Barkema’s round of 84, tying for fifth, and Lane Stanley had the Comets’ only birdie en route to his 89. Keegan Rhinehart also medaled for BCLUW, bringing in a 93.

Joe Smoldt shot an 88 to place seventh for Gladbrook-Reinbeck, which had tied with BCLUW in a dual meet a day earlier in Union. Matt Roeding rebounded from a rough start and tied for ninth with his 90, and Matt Johannsen shared 12th place with his 93.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Aaron Fleming shot the leading round for GMG with his 96.

Spartan Invite

At Grundy Center

Town & Country Golf Club, par 36-36–72

Team Standings — 1. Grundy Center 338, 2. Roland-Story 345, 3. BCLUW 371, 4. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 382, 5. Union Community 383, 6. Hudson 409, 7. GMG 419, 8. Waterloo Christian INC.

Individual (top 12) — 1. Jesper Holke-Farnam, GC, 72; 2. *Jake Bangasser, GC, 78; 3. Tyler Risdal, R-S, 78; 4. Noah Haack, HUD, 81; 5. (tie) Brad Barkema, BCLUW, 84; Will Larson, R-S, 84; 7. Joe Smoldt, G-R, 88; 8. Lane Stanley, BCLUW, 89; 9. (tie) Matt Roeding, G-R, 90; Matthew Weaver, R-S, 90; 11. Treyton Slater, U, 91; 12. (tie) Keegan Rhinehart, BCLUW, 93; Matt Johannsen, G-R, 93; Nolan Freeman, GC, 93; Carson Ehrenberg, R-S, 93; Brandon Stech, U, 93.

GRUNDY CENTER (338) — Holke-Farnam 72, Bangasser 78, Freeman 93, Tanner Appel 95, Matthew Sternhagen 95, Braidan Buhrow 102.

BCLUW (371) — Barkema 84, Stanley 89, Rhinehart 93, Jonny Neff 105, Blake Mann 113, Caleb Keller 118.

GLADBROOK-REINBECK (382) — Smoldt 88, Roeding 90, Johannsen 93, Tyson Creswell 111, Mason Skovgard 118, John Edler 142.

GMG (419) — Aaron Fleming 96, Kamrin Chizek 106, Conner Stonewall 107, Kolton Gill 110, Matt Lolwing 111, Presley Bland 111.

(* — won on first hole of sudden-death

playoff)