Belle Fourche senior Jade Burr admitted that she hadn’t been real happy with the way her spring had gone on the golf course.
So on a chilly day with a stiff breeze, Burr came out strong and played well in the wind to capture medalist honors in the Black Hills Conference girls’ golf tournament Thursday at Prairie Ridge Golf Course in Box Elder.
Now she’s happy.
“It was windy out and that affects your round a lot, but I think I play really well in the wind. I clubbed up when I needed to, and clubbed down; whatever I needed to do,” Burr said.
Burr finished with a 76, one stroke ahead of St. Thomas More’s Alex Kandolin, who struggled a bit early on the front nine, trailing by three strokes at the turn.
Burr’s good day started with confidence even before the first tee shot.
“I was really calm today. When I was hitting golf balls on the range, I was pretty confident about it. I just went into the first hole feeling confident and that helps a lot,” Burr said.
Burr opened with a 37 on the front nine and closed with a 39. There were no real struggles, she said, something that can be crucial in winning by one stroke.
“I think that helps a lot because I was very consistent. I didn’t have a bad hole, so it didn’t get too rough,” Burr said.
Burr’s Broncs also had a good start and day, winning the tournament with a 377, 19 strokes ahead of second-place Hot Springs. St. Thomas More was third with a 399, Spearfish fourth at 416 and Lead-Deadwood at 426. Sturgis finished with a 456.
Belle Fourche coach Clark Gusso liked his team's start, despite playing one player short because of illness.
“I thought our girls really adapted to the conditions well,” Gusso said. “We talk and we try to plan for any contingency as far as weather. Jade had a 37 on the front, Payson (Birkeland) a 42. Avery Middleton had a 49, and I think that is the first time she has broken 50 for a nine. Caitlin Ringling had a 51, wihich is a personal record.
“A couple of weeks ago we were struggling. Payson and Jade not so much, but the other girls have worked so hard to improve their game," Gusso said. "They now have expectations. That is half the key is to build those expectations and get it to this point of the season where you’re kind of peaking.”
Gusso, who is in his last season as Belle Fourche coach, earned his second BHC title, with the last one when Burr was an eighth grader in 2013.
“This is a nice way to go out. Another thing that is special is these girls won Black Hills Conference in basketball and volleyball. It’s kind of a trifecta. Payson and Jade played basketball, while Payson, Caitlin and Avery played volleyball,” he said. “They are good athletes and smart kids. It’s kind of a nice year to go out on.”
Molly Schwartz of Douglas finished third with a 79, followed by Chelsea Powles of Sturgis with an 85 and Birkeland with an 87.
While Burr was pleased with her day, Kandolin wasn’t quite as happy. She said it wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t a good day.
“It was kind of a rough day, the weather took its toll,” Kandolin said as she struggled on the front nine early as the first flight was playing behind some junior varsity golfers.
“We waited every hole for five, 10 minutes,” she said. “My hands got cold and it was hard to get your grip and get the feel for everything.”
The Class A golfers are nearing the end of their season, and Belle Fourche will get a couple of tournaments on their home course before the state tournament June 4-5 in Dell Rapids. They’ll host an invitational Tuesday and the Regional Tournament on May 24.
Both Burr and Kandolin are looking forward to the next few weeks.
“Hopefully I can go into regions confident like I was today, and hopefully I can win that as well. At state, I hope to be top five again this year,” said Burr, who tied for second last season. “I’m going to have to practice a lot with my chipping and putting mostly, and I will get down to Dell Rapids and play that a couple of times."
Despite coming up short on Thursday, Kandolin said she is excited about the rest of the season and challenging for a state title. She tied for fourth last season.
“It looks like a really nice course,” she said. “I just hope that we have good weather."