Sophomore Blake Bennett keeps an eye on the ball while making a long putt during practice on Monday.
With two league matches left on the schedule, the Upper Perk golf team entered this week with a good shot at making the PAC-10 Final Four. The Tribe, 4-3, has relied on a deep lineup and familiarity with its home course at Macoby Run to make a run at the postseason.
While the team has been led by sophomore Drew Kriebel, who once again is Upper Perk’s number one, seniors Dan Loose, Austin Bennett, Mitch Siwy and Kyle Kater have played on an even keel all season, giving the Indians a chance to win every match.
Bennett, who shot a season-best one over par 37 (for nine holes) in a 27-stroke victory over Phoenixville earlier this year, is typical of the golfers who have worked on honing their games since practice started in August. “I’ve been happy with the way I’ve been playing. I’ve been consistent with the scores right around 39 or 40.”
Coach John Brittain, in his tenth year at the helm, is hoping to see his veterans rewarded with a Final Four berth. “I want that for our seniors who have been with the program for four years. It is fun to watch them play in meaningful matches at the end of the year. They are all great kids and deserve it."
Kriebel, Loose and Bennett have been the one, two and three players all season and have given Brittain solid efforts in every match. The team’s depth, however, has meant the difference in what has to be labeled a successful season.
For examples, Kater was the difference in the Pottstown match when he came in with the lowest score in the final group. Sophomore Blake Bennett, Austin’s brother, tied his older sibling with a 39 when the Tribe dealt Methacton (6-1) its first PAC-10 defeat in two and a half years earlier this season.
Another factor in the team’s success is its play on its home course which Brittain describes as “always in great shape.”
“We are very good playing at Macoby Run and struggle when we go on the road,” said the coach. “I believe that home course advantage in golf is the greatest of all home field/court advantages.”
Wednesday’s make-up match against Perk Valley was at home, but today’s match against Pottsgrove is on the road.
Upper Perk sophomore Drew Kriebel is helping lead the team as the top player.
“Generally, our team plays extremely well at home, and then on the road we have a tougher time,” noted Austin Bennett. “When we’re playing on the road, you have to take advantage of the stuff that you use at home, like getting into trouble and finding the shortest and easiest way to get back out of trouble.”
Another highlight of the season has been the play of the lone female on the team, junior Lauren Saylor. Brittain feels that Saylor “has a great chance of qualifying for the District 1 tournament.”
Saylor inherited her golfing genes from her father, Gary. “My dad is a past PGA professional, and he has jump started my game, taught me the fundamentals.”
Saylor, whose low score is a 46 (for nine holes) this year, has been happy with her improvement over the course of the season and is striving to shoot consistently in the low 40’s.
“I’m very good with my driver, and I tend to be very good on the greens,” she said.
Like her male counterparts, Lauren takes pleasure at working on her game, even on vacation.
“This summer I went to Kansas and played with some friends of the family and that’s probably the best experience I had this summer. It was a completely different course, a lot smoother, a lot slicker. Very nice to play at.”