“If you look good, you feel good; if you feel good, you play good,” Hillsboro High School head golf coach Scott O’Hare said.
There is no high school sports uniform as varied as golf. Some teams trend toward casual. Shoes can vary from name-brand golf shoes to off-brand basketball kicks. Players wear their team golf shirts untucked, over checkered cargo shorts or jeans. Players don purple Kansas State University caps or camouflaged hats brandishing hunting related brands with a tee protruding from the base of the cap near the hairline.
“I’ve got kids who are cowboys and hunters,” O’Hare said. “They can wear whatever they want to practice. They know not to wear camo to a tournament.”
Other teams go ultra stylized. Halstead’s players at the Hillsboro Invitational Thursday all wore black shoes, black track style pants, white golf shirts, a black and gray colored sweatshirt, and bare heads. The orange-clad members of Baker’s team were more flamboyant, with members wearing diagonally striped light gray jackets.
Hillsboro falls in between the two spectrums. The uniform is customizable: senior Devin Dick wore track pants over shorts because of the cold Thursday and sophomore Evan Ollenburger wore shorts.
However, each Hillsboro player kept their shirt tucked in and wore golf shoes.
“I like to believe that mental aspect will help them,” O’Hare said.
Subscribing to the “look good, play good” theory is Ollenburger. He had the most defined style of any Hillsboro player, rocking calf-high socks splotched with white and white shorts.
He has also made the most improvement to his game from last season to this season. April 3 at Herington Ollenburger shot a team best 89, more than 20 points better than his previous low mark. O’Hare expects that type of progress to continue.
Ollenburger has started to learn how to get out of trouble. On hole five at Hillsboro, Ollenburger launched his tee shot behind a small batch of trees to the left of the par 5 fairway, deep into the rough. Using a wood, he could only manage a few yards on his second shot.
“Don’t be a hero,” O’Hare said of Ollenburger’s shot selection. “Don’t try to make up trouble with one shot.”
He rebounded well, blasting his third shot, with the same club, deep down the course about 20 yards from the hole. His next shot, with a high-numbered iron sailed over a batch of pine trees, landing down the hill from the sloped green.
O’Hare said the team has practiced more on the putting green and driving range than on the course. The work paid off on Ollenburger’s next shot. He chipped the ball within a foot of the hole giving himself an easy putt.
“You’ve got to be able to get the ball close to the hole,” O’Hare said.
Ollenburger turned a possible disaster hole into a respectable bogey. O’Hare emphasized that his team is learning, Ollenburger especially, and that these type of holes may become more common.
Ollenburger ended the tournament Thursday with a score of 93.
Kyler Borg, 108
Casie Allen, 117
Graham Pankratz, 128