POWHATAN – It’s not just a new season, but a new landscape for Powhatan’s golfers as they’re taking on new competition with the shift in districts from the Charlottesville-centric Jefferson District to the Chesterfield-heavy Dominion District.
“We’re in a new district this year, so it’s going to be a little tougher; the teams are definitely bigger,” said returner and junior Connor Voorhees. “But there are definitely some teams we can still beat out there, and I think, even though we lost a couple seniors, we’re stronger than we were last year, our sophomore class has definitely improved a lot and so have I, so I think we have a good chance at beating a few teams in the district for sure.”
Powhatan Golf went 12-9 to conclude its final year in the Jefferson District, and heads into the opening matches having lost two consistent starters out of its 2018 lineup, but also having returned everyone else from the previous season.
Voorhees and sophomore Brandon Washburn will help lead the young unit in 2019, and sophomore and newcomer Adam Camp has already played his way into the starting lineup, with head coach Chris Leech expecting him to stay there.
Leech said the young players are really eager to improve their games, and with the new district, they’ll get to play on new courses and take on a whole new experience overall. Having a young team also means that the players can build not only towards this season, but towards the seasons that follow as well.
He’s seen good course management from some of his golfers – they don’t let themselves get in bad situations, he noted, and they’ll ask what they might be doing wrong and what the coach would do in this or that scenario.
“They’ve been very coachable,” Leech said.
While he anticipates that the courses featured in the Dominion District will be similar to the ones they played through the Jefferson District, the main difference – and a significant one – will be driving distance. Not only will the golf team be cutting down on travel time to and from matches, but competition courses like Birkdale and First Tee will be easier to get to and play on outside of matches.
Leech is looking for consistency out of his team – he’d really like to see his student-athletes constantly shooting certain scores and also recognizing where their weaknesses are so they can address them and therefore drop those two or three strokes off of their scorecards - the type of improvement that Powhatan will need from each golfer to be competitive in the district.
“I want us to stay competitive – I don’t want to see any blowouts,” Leech added. “I know full-well Midlo and Monacan…James River are just deeper, stronger teams. I want to learn from them.”
He would also like to see some of his individuals make it to region play.
“We have some guys who, when regional qualifying comes in, have the opportunity to qualify through the sub-regionals to the final regional play,” Leech said. “Just getting that experience for them would be good.”
Powhatan begins season play Monday morning on Aug. 12 in the varsity invitational held annually at Chesterfield County’s Lake Chesdin Golf Club with a shotgun start time of 10 a.m.
Voorhees said Powhatan’s players are all good friends with one another.
“We all see each other a lot and talk to each other a lot – we do stuff out of the course too, at school,” Voorhees said. “We’re all very tight and close with each other.”
“Almost all our guys are coming back from last year, so we already know each other really well,” Washburn added. “I think that helps us with team chemistry a lot.”
Washburn this season looks forward to seeing some of the better teams “just to know what we can get to to compete with them.”
Like anything else, you play to the competition, Leech said, and playing good teams that are constant threats to excel in the postseason – including Midlothian and Monacan, which are also in Region 4B along with Powhatan – will show the kids what they need to do in order to be successful.
“I’m excited to see the new teams out there” – Voorhees added – “see who we’re up against and who we can beat.”