North Tama golf ready for state test after strong district showing

The North Tama boys’ golf team is ready to test itself at the Class 1A state tournament after winning its district meet last Thursday at Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Iowa City. Pictured are (from left) front row: Michael Bell and Aaron Snider; back row: Jack Schafer, Paden Ketter, Michael Schrier, Trent Whitmore and head coach Trevor Larson. Photo provided

North Tama boys’ golf has been slowly building towards a breakthrough throughout the 2021 spring season. The Class 1A Redhawks had their breakout game last Thursday in a district championship at Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Iowa City.

Redhawks head coach Trevor Larson was thrilled with the team peaking at the right time.

“It was an amazing day,” Larson said.

The Redhawks had their best team outing of the season with a 339 and tied with North Cedar at the top of the standings. With only one team allowed to go to state, the meet was decided by the all-important fifth-score tiebreaker. Sophomore Jack Schafer’s score of 91 was enough to give North Tama the banner and a trip to state this coming Thursday and Friday.

This is the third time in 2021 that the Redhawks has a meet decided by a card-off or a 1-to-2 shot margin, something Larson said can hammer home the importance for his golfers to keep fighting even during difficult rounds, just in case their score is a possible tiebreaker.

“In golf especially, it can be tough if you’re having a bad round,” Larson said. “If things aren’t going your way that day, it can be easy to just kinda mail it in. But it really is important to keep going and keep plugging away because you never know what scores are going to count.”

One reason for the team’s success this season has been senior leader Paden Ketter, who Larson said “carried” the team in the early part of the season. Ketter led the team in scoring average at 42.2 shots per nine holes and weathered a difficult patch of form in the middle of the season to “keep us afloat” in the latter half of the season, Larson added. Coming back from that difficult run, he saved his best round of the season for a moment when the whole team stepped up its game as well. Ketter’s season-best round of 79 earned him third place in the district and what would have been a state berth individually.

Ketter’s good form and that of the team has given the Redhawks confidence heading into a meet on the biggest stage. Other strong scores from the Redhawks were Michael Bell and Trent Whitmore with 86s and Michael Schrier with 88.

The Class 1A state meet is held at Newton’s Westwood Golf Course, and the Redhawks got a head start in preparation for the event by playing the course on Sunday, Larson said.

“The course is a little bit familiar to us now,” Larson said. “On the back nine there’s a couple tough holes that can be pretty tricky, you kinda gotta have a little strategy that goes into a couple of holes. Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward. The greens are pretty quick, but it’s going to be the same for everybody.”

North Tama will tee off with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Thursday, kicking off a two-day event the Redhawks waited over a year to qualify for. Tickets can be purchased at iahsaa.org and are $10 per person per day of the event.