The Upper Perkiomen High School golf team opened its season on Tuesday with an excruciating one stroke loss to Perkiomen Valley at Macoby Run Golf Course.
After the first five players finished in a dead heat, the sixth score tie breaker came into play where the Vikings’ Colin Anderson bested Ryan Miller 62 to 63.
Josh Peart led the way for the Tribe with a 53 followed by Drew Kriebel’s 56, Austin Bennett’s 56, Dan Loose’s 62, and Mia Baringer’s 62.
Despite the loss coach John Brittain is optimistic that experience gained during a 5-8 (2-7 Pac-10) season last fall will translate into a final four berth this year. The program has not made the playoffs since 2006.
Seniors Baringer and Peart and juniors Loose and Bennett all boast considerable experience as varsity golfers. Miller (12) and Dan Crum (10) will also be counted on.
“I am very excited about the season because we are in the position to build toward the future and compete presently,” said Brittain, in his tenth year as coach.
The prime example of that philosophy is lefthanded freshman Drew Kriebel who begins the season playing number one.
“Drew Kriebel is very good golfer, who played junior tournament golf this summer. He plays a controlled game and keeps his composure on the golf course.”
The last freshman to earn the number one ranking was Geoff Quinque, nine years ago. Quinque, who is also a lefty, went onto to a distinguished golf career at Elizabethtown College.
Baringer, as she did last year, and Lauren Saylor are playing against boys because Upper Perk cannot field a girls team. In the post-season, Baringer finished second in the Pac-10 Girls Golf Championship last year.
Brittain has been impressed with Baringer’s maturing skills. “Her game has improved dramatically from a year ago; more importantly her confidence and composure have improved. She has a great ability to score well, even when her swing is not perfect.”
Part of the reason for Baringer’s progress is time spent this summer at a prestigious junior golf academy run by Hank Haney, who has served as Tiger Wood’s and Mark O’Meara’s swing coach.
“They took my old swing and basically disregarded it and made a whole new one for me,” said Baringer who has taken five to ten strokes off her game since the week long camp in South Carolina.
It also helps that Baringer, who would like to golf in college, golfs obsessively during the summer including playing 12 holes before the Perkiomen Valley match on Tuesday.
Brittain believes that both Baringer and Saylor will benefit in the long run from the competition with boys. “I think this will only make both Mia and Lauren stronger when post season play rolls around.”
Another reason for Brittain’s optimism is the fact that most of the team’s matches will be on the home course at Macoby Run this year.
“Macoby Run is perfect for our high school golfers because they must learn to play with restraint. It is not a course, at least for holes 1-12, were you can hit and hope with the driver. We talk about the short game a lot at Macoby Run. You must be in good spots on the green to have a chance to score well. We love it there. The course is always in great shape.”