State Golf: Area entrants tee off Tuesday, June 13

Class 3A What: Class 3A state tournament Who: Brainerd's Gavin Metz When: Tuesday-Wednesday, June 13-14 Where: Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids Gavin Metz admitted he's going to be more nervous this year. As an upstart freshman playing in his first stat...

Gavin Metz
Gavin Metz

Class 3A

What: Class 3A state tournament

Who: Brainerd's Gavin Metz

When: Tuesday-Wednesday, June 13-14

Where: Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids


Gavin Metz admitted he's going to be more nervous this year.

As an upstart freshman playing in his first state tournament last year, Metz had no idea how big the Class 3A state tournament is.

He knows now, but heading into his second state tournament Metz has a goal and a plan.

"I want to shoot better than last time," said the Brainerd Warriors sophomore. "I didn't have a very good round last time. I want revenge on that.

"I just need to focus more on it. I need to play the practice round like a real round. I need to figure out all the different spots I need to hit from."

Last year, Metz placed 77th with rounds of 83-84 for a 167. His goal this year is to shoot 75 or lower. If that's not possible, he just wants to keep it in the 70s. His coach believes he can.

"He's about 20 yards longer off the tee," said Brainerd head coach Brian Wallace. "That's going to help him at Bunker Hills a lot.

"His ball striking is amazing. He never seems to miss his iron by much at all. We saw that very early on in his years with us. Even as an eighth-grader, you could tell he had that ball-striking talent. That's what carried him through all of his rounds. Now, with more length off the tee, his game has just gotten a little bit better than last year even."


Metz shot rounds of 78 and 74 for a fourth-place 152 at the Section 8-3A tournament. The second-year varsity player didn't make a ton of birdies during the tournament, but also suffered no major mistakes. That consistency and belief that par is good, should help Metz this season.

"I tell myself just get on the green and try and make your two-putt," said Metz. "If you don't, then make that first putt and get a birdie. Just avoid the three-putt. If I miss the green, then I just think to myself, chip this one close and make the one-putt."

Metz will tee off at 8:42 a.m. Tuesday on the West Course. He's playing with Jack Peterson of White Bear Lake, Luke Doolittle of Eastview and Blaine's Max Ullen.

"To do better than he did last year he has to realize that it's a 36-hole tournament and it can't be won in the first nine holes," said Wallace. "Typically the West has played harder than the East so his patience is going to be tried right away. It's a little bit longer and the greens are a little trickier.

"If he can come off the first nine holes of a 36-hole tournament, and be at a couple over, then he can go to the other side and make those strokes up and be right in the heart of the competition."

Class 2A

What: Class 2A state tournament

Who: Pequot Lakes' Alex Stone, Wadena-Deer Creek's McKayla Woods


When: Tuesday-Wednesday, June 13-14

Where: Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan

Alex Stone still isn't satisfied with the way she's played this season.

The Pequot Lakes senior is ranked third in Class 2A. She's a finalist for the Ms. Golf Award. She qualified for her fifth Class 2A state tournament, but she's not content.

A strong finish in her final high school tournament might help that. Stone tees off at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Round One of the state tournament at the Ridges at Sand Creek.

She's not putting any unnecessary pressure on herself.

"It's my last year and my goal is to improve from last year," said Stone. "Anything can happen in golf so I'm just going to go out there and try my best and have fun in my last high school tournament and my last career state tournament."

Last year, Stone fired a fourth-place 150 with rounds of 78 and 72. She tied for eighth as a sophomore after shooting 80-76--156. Her freshman year saw her tie for 29th with a 171. As an eighth-grader, she tied for 36th with a 27-hole 131 in a tournament that was shortened because of weather.


"I really like that course," said Stone. "It's probably one of my favorites. I've played there over 20 times now and I just know where my shots have to go. It really sets up well for my game.

"This course is set alongside a river so there are a lot of holes that you have to cross the river and it comes into play a lot. The key is placing your tee shots in the right position to get you on the green in regulation. The greens are pretty fast there, too, so short game is also a key. It's a combination of everything. You can get into trouble if your tee shots aren't placed correctly for the pin position."

Stone tied for third in the Section 8-2A tournament after a second-round 82. She was tied for the first-round lead after shooting 76.

"I think, if my game is going good that day, I should be able to compete with anyone and stay in the competition," Stone said. "At sections, I placed third so I won't be teeing off with the top players. I didn't play as well in sections as I wanted to, but I'm just going to focus on my game and not worry about how anyone else is doing.

"Obviously, I'll look at the other scores after the day, but I just need to tune into my game and focus."

That will be the focus of Wadena-Deer Creek's McKayla Woods, who's playing in her first state tournament. The senior will also tee off at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"It's going to be a great experience for her," said W-DC coach Missy Tabery. "We're going to try and get a hybrid in her bag, but actually she's playing pretty well and she's hitting her irons well, at least at Bemidji Town and Country club she did."

Woods secured the fifth and final spot to advance to state in the Section 8-2A tournament. She shot rounds of 87-82 to enjoy a two-stroke cushion from the rest of the field.


"She's excited," said Tabery. "It's not a long course so if she can hit her irons and she's actually a very good long-iron player. Her short game has improved a ton and her putting has improved immensely. She putted really well at Bemidji, which isn't an easy course to putt at."

Class 1A

What: Class 1A state tournament

Who: Pillager's Brady Enneking, Pine River-Backus' Nate Brasel, Brady Raph

When: Tuesday-Wednesday, June 13-14

Where: Pebble Creek, Becker

In the middle of the season, a return trip to the Class 1A state tournament didn't look to be in the cards for Pine River-Backus senior Nate Brasel.

He'd be the first to admit his 'A' game was nowhere to be found for most of May.


But Brasel's game returned just in time to place second in the Section 6-1A tournament and advance to his second state tournament, which begins Tuesday at Pebble Creek in Becker.

"He started out low, his practice rounds were low and then he started to push himself and just suffered one or two mistakes where he got himself into trouble at times," said PR-B head coach Steve Heslop. "He worked himself out of it, though. That's part of golf. He finished strong in the season.

"He shot a 35 on his final nine at Perham (site of the section meet) and that was a real comeback. His first nine was higher than he wanted, but he got serious and concentrated on everything."

Brasel fired an 82-79--161 to finish second at sections, three shots behind section champion Joe Stetz of Pelican Rapids

At state last year, Brasel tied for 59th with his 181. As a junior he opened with 92, but rallied with an 89 on Day Two.

"Pebble Creek sets up well for him because he's very good at moving the ball right or left," said Heslop. "And most of the holes at Becker are going to set up with a little draw for him. He's a long hitter so he should have no trouble reaching where he needs to go. It's just a matter of finding that landing zone so he can get set up to maximize the green when he gets there. And then his putting.

"It's going to come down to putting. When you get there, everyone is a good player. It's a matter of how quickly you're going to get accustomed to the speed of the greens."

As a junior, Pillager's Brady Enneking tied for 30th with a two-day 167 in last year's state tournament. Enneking shot rounds of 86-81.

"I expect him to go down there and do pretty well," said Pillager head coach Chris Berent. "I expect him to go down there and have fun and do the best he can and see where the chips fall.

"Last year, he was kind of a little nervous about everything. But having been there before, I think he realizes what to expect."

Enneking has played consistent golf all season and it carried over to the Section 6-1A tournament where he fired rounds of 79-83 to tie for third with a 162.

"I just saw a different Brady this year," Berent said. "I saw more calm, cool and collected and just a more confident player. He didn't let a lot of stuff bother him. That definitely helps in the game of golf."

That and a good game plan on how to attack the course.

"I think he knows when to pick and choose his shots," Berent said. "I think he knows when he can be aggressive and when he has to take it a little more easy and be more conservative. He's a smart player. He'll be able to handle himself. I have full confidence that he'll be able to get around the course pretty well."

As an eighth-grader, PR-B's Brady Raph tied for 39th with his two-day 171. He shot rounds of 82-89 in his first state tournament.

"He's really serious this year," said Heslop. "He knows what to expect. He's been there and he's looking forward to it. He's already practicing on the driving range and imagining the shots and hitting the shots for specific holes at Pebble Creek.

"He can overpower that course. Brady is a long hitter so that's why he's practicing these shots to specific distances. He remembers it. He's got his notes and scorecards from last year. He knows where the landing areas are and he's working on basically trying to be more accurate than long."

It was Raph who Enneking tied with for third at the section tournament.

Despite being a freshman, Heslop said Raph's goal is to finish in the top 10. That's also Brasel's goal.

"Both of those guys brought their overall average score down about four strokes from last year," said Heslop. "I think we're talking about more maturity. We're talking about how to play a golf course or how to outthink the golf course rather than try to overpower the golf course."

Alex Stone
Alex Stone

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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