ARGYLE — On two occasions over the next two days, Argyle senior Blake Lyle will step up to hole No. 8 at Austin’s Jimmy Clay Golf Couse, the same hole that devoured his driver last spring in the state tournament.
Lyle, by his coach’s account, smoked his tee shot down the middle of the course. But as he whipped the club around, the driver snapped in half and the club was no more.
This year there’s a different driver in Lyle’s bag, a club amongst a set amongst five players looking to erase last year’s disappointment from their memories.
Like Lyle’s driver, the team faltered down the stretch of last year’s state tournament. The Argyle boys team returns to Jimmy Clay this year to compete for the Class 3A championship.
The two-day, 36-hole tournament including 12 schools is scheduled to begin today at about 8 a.m.
“Last year we left on a sour note,” Argyle senior Hunter Thompson said. “The last nine holes were pretty rough as a team, so it’s just exciting to get back out there and start back up and hope to finish this one strong — start strong and finish strong.”
Lyle and Thompson are the only seniors on Argyle’s five-man squad. Juniors Nick Louy and Colton Katzen and sophomore Lance Roden will join them for the trip.
In last season’s run, the team finished the first day in second place with a score of 309, six strokes off the lead.
Argyle struggled the next day and finished in fourth place, 11 strokes behind champion Fredricksburg and 10 strokes behind second-place Andrews.
“We didn’t play as well as we could have the second day,” Argyle coach Brady Bell said. “I think that was huge motivation to the guys. As a group of five, they had an opportunity to come back this year and make amends.”
Lyle is planning to walk on at Florida Atlantic next year. He led Argyle at the state tournament last year and finished 12th overall. When his driver snapped on the second day, he had to use somebody else’s 3-wood, and it wasn’t the same.
But Lyle’s equipment failure wasn’t the only problem on a day when things weren’t going right for the whole team. The Boca Raton-bound senior said there were some positive things to take out of last year’s struggles.
“I just think we haven’t been in that situation before, and different people handled it differently,” Lyle said. “I had the driver snap and I was using someone else’s, and other people just encountered different types of adversity, but I think it was a good experience to learn from.”
Every weekend, the quintet hit Denton Country Club and played the same five-man game. Thompson said it’s something he and Lyle have done for four years, and any of the five can come out on top.
The team’s overall consistency was evident when Argyle won its first regional championship this year. The four lowest individual scores are counted to make up the team score, and the odd score out was a 77.
“When you throw out a 77, you’re having a pretty good round,” Bell said.
Thompson said that between the five starters and two reserves, the team’s depth is what makes the Eagles potent.
“That’s the beauty of our golf team,” Thompson said. “All five — and even six and seven — it can be anyone’s day. Seven days a week, it could be seven different people winning a round of golf.”
On Tuesday afternoon, luggage and golf clubs waited outside the Argyle gym for their owners to stow them on the team’s small yellow bus.
The journey for the team started a long time ago, after its final round of last year’s state tournament. Lyle said a win in this year’s tournament would serve as a sign that the Eagles have matured.
“That would mean a lot, because that would just show how much we learned from last year and how much work we put in for this year,” Lyle said. “It would mean a lot for everybody on the team.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.