Time to tee it up: JFK, Girard pace area golf teams this season

There’s not many stat geeks deeply involved in golf. Not many people cut out the standings of each weekend tournament and make a scrap book, like people did for baseball box scores in the pastime’s glory days.

The new age baseball sabermetricians live for the numbers game and analyze each player’s mathematical worth.

John F. Kennedy boys golf coach Jim St. George is attempting his own methodical approach for algebra on the links.

On each player’s hat, the fraction “80/320” is written.

“If four players are averaging an 80, that’ll give us a team score of 320,” St. George said.

Last year’s Division III state champion, Ashland Crestview, shot 323 each day at the North Star Golf Resort in Sunbury. The Eagles finished in eighth place with a two-day score of 681. However, they qualified for the state tournament by winning the Northeast District with a score of 391.

This year, the JFK top four boys are junior Ryan Fowler, senior Billy Phillips, junior Daniel LaPolla and freshman Ryan Theiss. For 18 holes they’re averaging 74, 80, 84 and 86, respectively.

“I give them a goal that fluctuates a little above their handicap,” St. George said. “Then we add up and divide with a combination of those numbers and hopefully they hit their average. We treat it like a baseball batting average.”

Girard coach Josh Marsh instills a similar method.

“During practice I give them each a number,” Marsh said. “They can either match or beat that number.”

Sophomore Mark Standohar is averaging a 35 for nine, while his brother, Evan, is at a 36. Their cousin, Jim, averages a 37.

“Each time, I hope they improve by one stroke, whether they did better or worse than their average from the outing before,” Marsh said.

The Indians have won back-to-back All-American Conference National Division championships. Last year, they were undefeated in the conference and missed state by four strokes in the district tournament at Windmill Lakes.

Girard aims to maintain better course management. So does Mineral Ridge.

Shawn Brown has guided the program for three of its four years of existence. Three also is a key number for the Rams – a number they never want to see.

“We don’t want any three putts,” Brown said. “It’s a realistic goal and a productive goal. It’s something to work on and something manageable that can be fixed on the greens.”

Mineral Ridge won its first Inter-Tri County League Division I championship with a 12-2 conference record. There’s 11 kids on the roster, its highest turnout, with nine being freshmen and sophomores. Four top players, Brandon Bukofchan, Josh Durig, Pierce Rassega and Jackie Smith have graduated.

“It reminds me a lot of the first year I took it over,” Brown said. “It’s a bit of rebuilding and they can achieve what we did last year. The kids I have now want to do that.”