With seven par 3s and approximately 4,800 yards to cover, Wood Wind Golf Course was set up to be kind to those who played it on Tuesday.
Never one to pass up such an opportunity, sixth-ranked Center Grove didn’t.
Led by sophomores Lexi Stuart and Camille Short, the Trojans scored a 3-over par 279 to edge No. 3 Carmel by three strokes at the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament. North Central placed a distant third with a 346 total.
The triumph marked the third time in the event’s 26-year history that Center Grove has prevailed, and its first win since 2015. The Trojans have been runner-up an astonishing 19 times, including each of Cale Hoover’s first three years as coach.
This time, the Trojans brought home the hardware while placing four players on the all-MIC squad (Carmel had the other four, led by sophomore Michaela Headlee, the medalist with a 65).
“Each time we’ve been here, with the construction going on it’s a little bit different,” Hoover said. “All I talked about (Monday) was that we were going to have to go low. We knew it would take a low number because Carmel would shoot a low number here.
“We talked about minimizing mistakes. Keeping it in play. We dealt with the creek that runs across the course pretty well. I only ever saw one ball go in there today, so it was a pretty clean day.”
Wood Wind played at a par 69, which is highly unusual for players normally attempting to break 72 or 71, depending on the golf course. The tournament began with a shotgun start.
Stuart’s career-best of 68 and Short’s 69 were followed closely by the 70 put up by junior Sage Parsetich. Also for the Trojans, soph Rowen Pfeifle carded a 72 and senior Lanie DeHaven a 76.
Center Grove’s two low scorers admit playing a sub-70 par course was unique.
“It does make me think it’s easier, but it also sets me up where I can break 70 for the first time, which is really exciting,” Stuart said. “I had a couple of rough holes, but I hung in there and finished strong.”
Added Short: “At the end of the day, it’s just another golf course, but you do realize the scores are going to be lower. My chipping was a lot better today. I worked on it yesterday quite a bit, and it’s good to see it pay off.”
Over the weekend, Center Grove had finished seventh at the Hall of Fame Classic at Eagle Pointe in Bloomington — 15 shots behind Carmel, which tied Westfield for second.
Hoover likes to think what transpired Tuesday is further evidence of his squad’s ongoing maturity.
“We’re even with them on the year, and I would like to think that we now understand we can play with these teams,” Hoover said. “I think we’re a confident bunch, and they’re starting to come into their own.
“We’re still a pretty young group, but I think we’re mature. Obviously, in our golf program and our sports programs at Center Grove, we’ve got aspirations for later on this season, but it’s nice to have these feathers in your cap.”