The Mustangs boys golf team brings back some experience this fall.
Five of the six Mustangs who teed it up in the regional last October at Lake Carroll will be in a Morrison shirt again, with Mason Dykstra, Isaac Melton, David Stralow, Dayton Young and Adam Tichler bringing in that experience.
“It’s looking pretty sharp so far,” Dykstra said. “We’re putting in a lot of work during and after practice, taking it into our own hands.”
Dykstra, Melton and Stralow were on the varsity roster as freshmen in 2018, so as juniors this fall, they are entering their third year as Mustang varsity players.
“They have the experience and, more than anything else, they’ve watched and seen what good golf shots look like,” Morrison coach Justin Stevenson said. “It’s really just picking a specific thing we can work on with each of them. We know their games, so what can we work on to improve?”
Morrison also has some reinforcements, in the form of several football players who have chosen life on the links this fall over sitting on the couch waiting for the COVID-delayed start of football season in the spring.
Danny Mouw has been playing golf with family members most of his life, so the chance to do so while representing Morrison was one he couldn’t pass up.
“I’ve learned how far I can hit certain clubs,” Mouw said. “[I want to work on] my drives. I tend to slice the ball a lot.”
Beau Brackemeyer is a lineman for Morrison most falls. This fall, he is on the golf course.
“I’ve always liked golf, playing in my free time, and I thought what better chance to go out and get some fine-tuning and stuff to my game since football is delayed,” he said.
In a normal fall, Nathan Helms would be taking snaps for the Mustangs football team.
This year he has gone from being an adept signal-caller for one of the better teams in the Three Rivers to breaking out a golf game that, he admits, struggles at times. He already sees improvements in his short game, though.
“That’s what I’ve struggled with since I’ve played golf, and practicing every day has made it a lot easier,” Helms said.
He’s on a fall baseball team as well as suiting up for the Mustangs on the golf course, but there was zero chance that Helms was going to spend the fall on his couch.
“I haven’t played a competitive sport since last fall, and I definitely missed it,” he said. “When we finally got to practice [football] a little bit before it all got shut down, it was nice to get out and get to do something. When the opportunity presented itself, I decided I was going to play [golf] to do something.”
Brackemeyer did think a bit about sitting back and relaxing this fall.
“I’m so used to doing sports and work and everything like that where I figured I might as well come out,” he said. “Get along with some new people I haven’t really talked to that much.”
A lot of the veterans have been helpful with ways to improve his game, and he has seen it improve, he said.
“A lot of them have played golf or known of golf before, so it’s not like we’re teaching them the basics,” Dykstra said. “It’s just fine-tuning and fixing up parts of their game here and there.”
One of the big things that needed fine-tuning, Stevenson found, was the short game. To help boost the play around the greens, Stevenson had his players out at Kiwanis Park in Morrison chipping at targets and nets.
The 2020 season is a very different beast, as teams have to worry about safety protocols in the midst of a pandemic, and the schedules look somewhat different, with smaller tournaments on the weekends and no nonconference opponents from out of the region.
To add to the degree of difficulty, the guidelines have changed a couple of times since golf got the green light to proceed with its season.
“Our athletic director, Gregg Dolan, does an unbelievable job of keeping me up to date on how quickly things change,” Stevenson said.
“We’ve never played golf with masks on, so that’s new. Obviously, with the heat we’ve had, making sure the guys stay hydrated. We’re doing everything we’re supposed to do. We take temperatures when they show up to practice. We take temperatures when they show up to school.”