The Wildcats return their top four golfers from last year’s team that finished fourth at the region meet for the second straight year and missed qualifying for the state meet by two shots. They were in position to advance to the state tournament for the first time in school history but combined to shoot 8-over par over the final three holes.
"We need to learn to finish strong, especially when we play 18 holes," Vinson said.
The Wildcats return a wealth of experience for Vinson in 2004.
The foursome of senior Bradley Sutherland, juniors Curtis Mitchell and Jordan McNichols, and freshman Tyler Mitchell each had scoring averages under 40 for nine holes last year.
Sutherland averaged 37.3 last year and shot a 78 at the Region I meet. He is expected to lead the Wildcats again this year after playing in several tournaments across the Southeast this summer.
One of those tournaments saw Sutherland qualify for the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in California Sept. 3-5.
The First Tee Open is a groundbreaking event, offering 78 junior golfers the unprecedented opportunity to compete alongside 78 Champions Tour members and 156 amateurs at Pebble Beach.
Four other golfers kept busy on the Kentucky Junior Golf Tour over the summer.
Curtis Mitchell had the lowest scoring average last year as a sophomore (36.3) and led the way at the region meet with a 77. He was an alternate for the U.S. Junior Amateur Tournament held last month in San Francisco.
Tyler Mitchell averaged a 39.2 last year and shot a 78 at the region meet. Over the summer, he averaged 37.7 for nine holes on the KJGA Tour and finished second in the point standings for 13-14-year-olds.
Vinson expects big seasons from McNichols and Taylor Lowary, both of whom also competed in the KJGA Tour over the summer.
McNichols was third on the team in scoring average last year (37.0) and averaged a 40.5 in ten tour events over the summer.
Lowary, a sophomore, was Trigg County’s sixth golfer for most of last year and competed in 11 tour events over the summer, averaging a 43.3 for nine holes.
"It’s hard to beat tournament experience and they all got that over the summer. It’s invaluable," Vinson said.
Another advantage for the Wildcats is the lack of a true number one golfer, which means anyone can step into that role on any given day.
"That’s a good problem to have. They’ll compete all year for it, and the competition amongst themselves will make them better," Vinson said.
He added that Michael Holloway will compete for the sixth spot on the team and could move up.
"He’s really improved his game from last year," Vinson said.
Other golfers who will make a run at the six and seven spots are Sam Nunnery, Ben Kelly, Jordan Bostick, Shaun Sizemore, Bruce Lambert, Preston Metts, and Jordan Sumner.
Trigg County has again set their sights on becoming the first TCHS team to qualify for the state tournament.
Each of the past two years, the Wildcats have missed out by less than five strokes.
"We were 19-1 in 9-hole matches last year, but fell short at the region. We’re wanting to remedy that this year," Vinson said.
The Wildcats will have plenty of preparation for the Region I Meet to be played September 28 at the Calvert City Country Club. Trigg has 20 matches scheduled, including four invitationals. The Wildcats will also play on the Calvert City course twice.
On the girls’ side, Vinson wants to use 2004 as a season to work on fundamentals and build the program’s numbers up.
"I’m not sure how many tournaments we’ll play in. We want to focus more on fundamentals than scores," he said.
After several successful seasons that saw TCHS qualify teams for the state tournament, the program’s numbers have dwindled. Their lone returning scorer from last year, Samantha Butts, transferred to Calloway County.
Those players comprising the Lady Wildcat team in 2004 are Dori Sheehan, Erin Oakley, Danielle Robuyak, and Elizabeth Howell.