By NICK McQUEEN
Special to The Telegram
HAYS — Under first-year head coach in Walker Frey, the goal is simple for the Garden City High School boys' golf team.
The Buffaloes just want to get better each time they step out on the course.
When that course is the 6,291-yard, par-71 Smoky Hill Country Club, there isn't much room for error.
Garden City's inexperienced squad struggled Monday in the Hays High School/Bob Blazer Invitational, finishing with a 353 in a tie for sixth place with Class 3A Goodland in the 12-team field.
"We need to be getting more around that 330 mark to be good for us," said Frey. "I know it was a tough day, and this course plays tough, but we'd like to see a few more scores in the 80s, and getting that team score down there."
The day started in windy, 43-degree conditions, and didn't improve until the final three or four holes.
By then, after a rough start, the scores were a bit high.
Junior Austin Swender, the lone returning varsity golfer, finished with an 84, coming back for a 40 on the back-nine, but got off to a rough start. He parred No. 1, but triple-bogeyed Hole 2, one of the easier rated holes on the course.
"That, in my mind, is one of the best opportunities for a birdie on the golf course," Frey said. "He fell into a rough start, and just never really got going."
Western Athletic Conference favorite Dodge City won the event with a 315 and host Hays High was runner-up at 319. Swender missed medaling by four strokes.
The temperature never rose above the mid-50s, and the wind carried on all day.
The Buffs struggled around the greens.
"It's been our putting and our short game," Frey said about the struggles thus far. "The greens (at Smoky) are pretty tough, but they roll good and they roll true, so there is no reason we should be three-putting and not converting some up-and-down opportunities."
Senior Mitch Moore, in the three spot, finished with an 88, and the rest of the Buffs were in the 90s. Sophomore Tristan Corrales shot a 90, followed by freshman Parker Tanner (91), junior Tucker Schiffelbein (92) and senior Jacob Law (96).
The Individual title went to Dodge City senior Zach Kirby with a 73.
Garden City travels to Dodge City on Thursday for a 1 p.m. start at Mariah Hills Golf Course.
"Season's young. Our thing is just getting a little better each day," Frey said. "We've been doing that so far. It's a process, though, of getting better and better each day."