BLUFFTON – In the days before the Norwell boys golf sectional was scheduled to be played at Timber Ridge Golf Club last Friday, more than 4 inches of rain fell, washing out two footbridges and leaving the rest of the course too soggy to play.
The deluge couldn't have come at a better time for Bellmont's Brevin Slusher. The senior had been suffering from a severe case of mono and came home from a five-day hospital stint Wednesday, not sure if he'd be allowed to play in his final sectional meet.
But the weather delay gave the senior another shot, and with almost no preparation he shot a 76 to tie for second place with defending sectional champion Spencer Schwartz.
“I'm happy. It's all I could have asked for at this point,” Slusher said. “If the tournament had been Friday or Saturday, I probably wouldn't have been here.”
Slusher said it had been about two weeks since he had played Timber Ridge, but he shot 41 on the front nine and then 35 over his final nine holes to finish around his average for the season.
“The front nine, it was just more to get the rust off, and then back nine I was able to pick it up and get a few birdies on the back,” Slusher said. “Overall, I'm not too upset with it.”
Eastbrook's Noah Ross shot a 71 to win the individual sectional title by five strokes and lead his Panthers to the team title with a score of 331. Norwell narrowly took second place at 334, and Bellmont also advanced to the regional with a score of 336.
“He played lights out,” Schwartz said of Ross. “It was incredible. I was 1-under through 14, but I obviously didn't keep it together. He kept it together the whole day, so I was really impressed.”
After the awards ceremony, Slusher and Schwartz agreed to a playoff to determine who would take home the second-place ribbon and who would settle for third, and Schwartz won.
Schwartz started the tournament with a strong performance on the back nine holes, and was 1-under through the fifth hole on the front nine.
“I did not have a good sixth hole, and I did not have a good eighth hole, but I played good on the other holes, so that helped my round,” Schwartz said. “On six, the wind was different than I realized, and I put it in the water, and I never do that. It wasn't good from there. And then on eight, I had a lot of putts.”
Schwartz said he was ready to go last week, but it was worth waiting until Monday for the improved conditions.
“Since I go to Bluffton, this is our home course, and my family has a membership out here, so we've been playing this last week, and it's been so squishy,” Schwartz said. “Every step and water is coming over our shoes – I'm honestly surprised they were able to get it this good. It looks really nice out today.”
Making the course playable was a huge undertaking for Timber Ridge's head pro Bruce Imel, who doubles as Norwell's head coach.
“I'm kind of tired, trying to get it all in shape,” Imel said. “I have a very young team team; I have two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior. And so going into it, I told them that if they could just play close to their ability, we would have a chance to win. And we did pretty good.”
The young team will have its mettle tested Thursday at the regional tournament, which will be played at The Players Club in Yorktown.
“Things are bright for Norwell golf,” said Imel, a Norwell graduate. “This is my second year of being the golf coach, and I set the goal that in four years, I wanted to have a state-contending team. We're on that track to get there.”