There’s a saying in southwest Kansas about the finicky weather patterns that beset the area.
'Wait 15 minutes and it will change.'
Well, that’s what the golfers were hoping for on Monday at the already once-delayed Holcomb Invitational boys tournament at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
At the scheduled 11 a.m. shotgun start, the field of 63 golfers braved the 47-degree temperature and light wind of 8 mph that translated into a wind chill of 43 degrees.
Not exactly ideal playing conditions to keep one’s hands and body warm.
The golfers were hoping for a warming trend, and while they did get some relief (58 degrees at tournament’s finish), it never got toasty on the links.
But Syracuse’s Will Kullot managed to overcome those mental (and somewhat physical) challenges to conquer the field with a 3-over-par score of 75 to claim low medal honors.
And to what has become a customary finish, the Cimarron Bluejays shot a team score of 332 to outdistance runner-up Syracuse by 19 shots as the Bulldogs’ 351 was two shots head of TMP-Marian’s 353. Host Holcomb was seventh among the eight competing teams with a 431 total.
For Kullot, a senior who will be competing at Dodge City Community College next year, the 75 was a solid round on a day that presented challenges both in the chilly start and then when the wind picked up as the temperature rose.
“I’ve been trying to shoot lower scores this year to get better prepared for state,” said Kullot, who just three days prior had shot a 71 to capture first place at the Lakin Invitational. “For me, I think I set the standard (for top finishes) last year, so now I’m focused on just getting better and shooting lower scores.”
Kullot’s round started with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 first, offset by a bogey on the third hole before he birdied the par-3, fourth.
He went on to bogey the eighth, double-bogeyed the ninth and bogeyed the 10th before settling in to finish with eight consecutive pars.
He was clear of runner-up Josh Seabolt of Cimarron by two shots as the Bluejays senior shot 42-35 en route to the silver medal.
“I was wearing three layers (of clothing) when we started and I was down to one (layer) when we finished,” Kullot said. “There wasn’t much wind at the beginning, but it did pick up at the end.”
Kullot said his driver abandoned him on the back nine (38-37), but he was able to save par on five of the holes with good chips and made putts.
“There’s a number of intimidating tee shots out there,” Kullot said. “I was also missing greens, but fortunately I had a good day chipping and putting.”
For Seabolt, who will be competing in football next year at Bethel College, moving into the spring sport has been a slow process, after enjoying an undefeated wrestling season and claiming his second straight Class 3-2-1A stat etitle.
“I haven’t had much practice time on the short game and that’s where it really shows,” Seabolt said. “I’m always trying to figure things around the green, and I hit a few bad shots on the front nine.”
Seabolt said he has enjoyed the mental side of golf, in that he tries to imagine what his next shot will look like.
“It’s a lot of fun, and I enjoy my teammates,” Seabolt said. “We’re chasing Will and we hope to be able to take him down sometime. He’s pretty good, but depending on the day, I think there’s a couple of guys who if they have a good day have a chance to beat him. That’s kind of one of our goals.”
The other goal is to return to the Class 3A state tournament, but bring home the championship trophy.
After three consecutive years of playing at state, and finishing third at the 2017 state tourney, three shots out of first place, the Bluejays want to make more noise this year.
“They think they have a chance and they believe that they can win,” Cimarron coach Lance Walker said afterward. “You save the locker room talk and just see how it goes, but the good news is these kids believe they can win it.”
The Bluejays won Monday’s event without one of its top players, Matt Mowry, who sat home due to disciplinary reasons, Walker said.
Walker’s group still had three players finish in the top 10 and five in the top 20 to provide the Bluejays with an abundance of balance.
“That’s our strength,” Seabolt said of his teammates. “We’ve got any number of guys who can shoot the best score of the day.”
For many teams, the spring schedule will have a big two-week break as the Cimarron Invitatonal is scheduled for April 23. Cimarron, though, travels to Larned next Monday.