Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – The Kingman High School boys golf team isn’t necessarily in rebuilding mode, but it will look to succeed on the green with a number of new faces. While it’s too early to tell how the returners and newcomers work together, Bulldogs head coach Chad Baitinger has high hopes.
“It’s looking promising,” he said. “I’ve never had nine players come out at the beginning of the season. So that’s good. At least I can make the kids have to compete with each other to earn that top five spot.”
Kingman returns senior Landin Jones and juniors Matthew Mendez, Hayden Tanner and Sid Jensen. The other golfers may be inexperienced, but Baitinger has trust in their abilities due to the fact a lot of them play another sport.
“Most are my baseball players that decided not to play football or just wanted to pick up another sport,” he said. “They’re athletes. So if they put the time in and practice, they should improve quickly.”
Kingman opens its season Aug. 22 in a multi meet against host Lee Williams High School and Mohave Accelerated.
It will be the first taste of competition for a number of Bulldogs, but Baitinger will lean on the experience of his returners.
“I plan on using my veterans to help me coach the younger ones,” he said. “They’re going to have to step it up, especially if we want to compete. With our returners, I think we can be competitive in our region. We just need to have a couple more of our younger guys step it up and be that guy that can come in and shoot a 40 every once in a while.”
Baitinger said it was too early to pinpoint the team’s strengths, but he did mention an area of improvement.
“A weakness is going to be putting, so that’s where we’re going to spend most of our time in preseason,” he said. “We’re going to learn how to putt because that’s where you lose most of your strokes on a course.”
As far as the schedule goes, Baitinger is taking it one match at a time. However, he did mention that he hopes the Bulldogs can improve against some of the top tier teams.
“There’s a few teams that are about our ability,” Baitinger said. “I’d like to see us improve on that and really go out there and beat them better than we did last year. I’d like to also catch up with teams such as Lee Williams, Prescott and all those guys.”
At the end of the day though, Baitinger knows the team is still a work in progress and only time and actual competition will help.
“It’s baby steps right now,” he said. “Once they get into the match season and they start playing once or twice a week in competitive matches, then they start to feel more comfortable and they learn a lot.”