WILLCOX — Losing a generational talent to graduation, as well as a couple more starters, has left the Willcox golf program to scramble for starters behind returning junior Lyndon Smyers.
“You don’t replace golfers like Logan Adams, you just got to take what you got,” second-year head coach Calvin King said. “Hopefully we can take five kids and make golfers out of them.”
“Lyndon’s going to be good. It will just take the time and effort for him to step up,” the coach said. “He has a lot of the tools, he just needs to refine at them.”
Golf isn’t a quick learn and King said that the schedule is fortunately backloaded toward April, allowing a lot of time in March to hone skills and get in the repetition necessary for learning.
“Jayton Rodriguez is a sophomore who played some tournaments for us last year and acquitted of himself decent,” King said. “He’s our second best right now. Sophomore Hilton Van Renen also played for us last year. Newcomers include sophomore Kyan Rupert and freshmen Keith Landry, Jaren Friend and Chase Chumley.
“Goal number-one,” King continued, “is to get Lyndon qualified for state with seven scores in the low 40s. The team goal is very tough to qualify as top 15, but we’ll try for that.”
He has a couple of helpers this year. One is a new apparatus called a swing-plane trainer that is “fun to use and is getting results to change kids swings for the better,” the coach said. But, “my new assistant coach, Toni Pennington, a former college golfer, will be my biggest asset.”
Pennington’s strong knowledge of technique will help prepare the team for their March 3 opener at Benson followed by a March 6-7 tournament in Safford. They’ll host the Sandy Cook Invitational in Willcox on March 27.
“The more our kids show up for practice, the better we get,” King said.
Editor's note: This story was updated Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 10:22 a.m., to correct the listing of assistant coaches.