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Spring Lake golf wins home jamboree

Duncan MacLean • May 23, 2017 at 12:23 AM

SPRING LAKE — Playing at home typically brings a wealth of advantages to an athlete and their game, particularly on the golf course.

The Spring Lake boys golf team has struggled capitalizing on those advantages recently in competition at their home course at the Spring Lake Country Club. Monday afternoon, the Lakers turned the tables, winning their home O-K Blue Conference jamboree with a total score of 161.

They edged Catholic Central (165) for top honors, ahead of West Catholic and Allendale (168), Coopersville and Sparta (186) and Comstock Park (201).

“This is the first time in memory we have won a conference jamboree at home,” Spring Lake head golf coach George Bitner said. “I’ve had better teams come here and flub it up, they always think, ‘hey, this is our course, we are gonna do real well’ and then, bam, they fall apart.”

Composure was the name of the game Monday, as the Spring Lake varsity roster came through with consistent play.

“We went 35, 41, 42, 43. The kids are starting to put together some solid rounds,” Bitner said.

Nick Krueger paced the Lakers, carding a 35 — two-under-par at the Spring Lake course, a score that could have been even lower.

“Nick looked like he was doing great,” Bitner said. “He started out strong, then three-putted the last two holes.”

Jack Johnson followed for Spring Lake at 41, ahead of Sam Walters at 42, Connor Tebelman at 43, Zak Lisman at 44 and Chancellor Fry at 48.

“Jack is steady now, Sam is playing consistent,” Bitner said. “Things are coming together.”

Course knowledge, fair conditions and the comforts of home were all advantages for Spring Lake Monday, but their biggest advantage may have been their coaching. When asked what had his players shooting so well, Bitner credited himself.

“I stayed away from them,” he joked.

The final hurdle the team has to conquer, according to Bitner, is themselves.

“The hardest yardage on the course is the six inches between your ears,” he said. “Guys are rushing through their rounds, or thinking about the total score, you can’t do that or it all falls apart.”

The win Monday puts the Lakers back in the conversation for a league title late in the season.

“We got (the field) by four today, that might put us back in first place,” Bitner said. “I’m not certain, but we are up there with West Catholic and Catholic Central.”

Between now and the final jamboree, Bitner still has some tinkering to do with his lineup to ensure an acceptable performance in the postseason.

“I’ve got to have four good ones for the regional,” he said. “I’ll take a 42, when it is on a par 37. 42 is the line, I’ve had old golfers say it was harder to make the team than play the competition, that is how it should be.”

Bitner plans to continue putting the bottom spots of the varsity rotation up for grabs in challenge matches, and testing his team on some tough courses to round out the season.

The O-K Blue will be decided at a final 18-hole jamboree at Kaufman Golf Course on Thursday before the Lakers take on the regional tournament on June 1 at the Lincoln Hills Golf Club, hosted by Ludington.

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