Fun or Business?
WEBSTER CITY – Alec Fuhs’ mission is simple and it comes down to one three-letter word: Fun.
Fun for South Hamilton will occur only if it’s accompanied by a big, shiny trophy.
The attitudes are quite different for Fuhs, a Webster City freshman making his state golf debut, and the Hawks, a veteran club with three consecutive state-meet appearances. And that’s the way it probably should be.
Fuhs will tee off from the Ames Golf and Country Club today at noon as an individual qualifier in the Class 3A state meet. South Hamilton will be back at Spring Valley Golf Course in Livermore today for the 2A tournament. Both will tee off at noon, with the second round commencing Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
Fuhs played in the No. 3 slot for the Lynx all season and came to life in early May. He led the team at the Lynx Invitational, again at the sectional meet where he was the runner-up and then for a third time at districts, where a tie for third-place earned him the distinction of being the only freshman to qualify for 3A state.
“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t hitting the ball very well,” Fuhs said. “But then I just started to swing a little better.”
Lucky enough, Fuhs became a member at the Ames Golf and Country Club earlier this year, so he knows what to expect.
“If it’s windy it’s a pretty long course,” Fuhs, who has a career-best round of 79 at the course, said. “But it’s not even close to as tough as Bos Landen (where WCHS played districts).”
Fuhs says his biggest obstacle will be his nerves, particularly over his first shot today. But he’s not heaping pressure upon himself.
“I probably won’t be sleeping much (Thursday) night and I’ll be shaking before my first tee off,” he said. “But I just want to have fun and act like it’s just another tournament. I’m not looking to try to do anything too special.”
He’ll be among a large field that includes defending 3A medalist Alex Moorman of Centerville, who became the first freshman ever to win the 3A title a season ago.
South Hamilton has much loftier goals in mind as it sets itself to tackle the course dubbed “Little Augusta.” Third two years ago and fourth last spring, the Hawks believe they are a legitimate title contender.
“If we play well we’ve got a shot for a very high finish,” South Hamilton head coach Mark Ullestad said. “But we know we need to go low and we know we have to play every shot, every hole like it means everything.”
The loaded field includes defending state champion Waterloo Columbus and 2012 third-place finisher PCM, as well as Fort Dodge St. Edmond, Des Moines Christian, OA-BCIG, Durant and Mount Vernon.
South Hamilton’s title chances imploded on the opening day a season ago with a 331. A Day 2 323 was the second-lowest total of the round, but the Hawks still finished 37 shots behind Columbus.
“We need to start playing well and we need to have that sense of urgency from that first tee shot because if we get behind early we’re probably not going to catch up,” Ullestad said. “I don’t think Columbus or PCM is going to back up.”
Juniors Trevor Ullestad and Braxton Risetter, and senior Jake Haugland all played at state a year ago. Trevor Ullestad tied for 15th, Risetter shared 21st and Haugland joined others in 23rd.
Jordan Bowers, Jordan Toillion and Lucas Fisher complete the Hawks’ squad.
Trevor Ullestad will step to the tee with a target on his back; he currently sits as the No. 1-ranked individual in the class. But don’t think Risetter – his close friend and rival who is ranked No. 6 – will step aside as both pursue individual gold.
“They’re good friends, but they don’t like to lose to each other,” Mark Ullestad said. “There’s definitely a rivalry between them and that’s how I want it to be. That makes everybody better.
“They look at the rankings as every 17-year-old kid would do … they have the capability and mindset to think they can win the whole thing. They’ve played enough golf and they’ve got the skill set to do it.”
Zach Ward and Jack Conway, both of Columbus, placed fourth and sixth, respectively a season ago. PCM’s Hunter Van Veen was 14th.