The North Myrtle Beach golf team had a battle on its hands Saturday.
With sloppy playing conditions, the Chiefs outlasted the 24-team field, shooting a 310 as they edged Waccamaw (311) during the Carolina Forest-hosted Panther Invitational at The General James Hackler Course.
“Gosh almighty, it always feels good to win. It feels a whole lot better than when you lose,” North Myrtle Beach coach David Small said. “With the conditions and everything, I thought we did extremely well. We thought we could feel better but everyone else did too. It was good to escape with one.”
Rain was coming down for much of the day and Small said it affected some of his golfers’ play.
“Play could have been [stopped] at any point. It was a good, steady rain; not pourdown, but steady. It made it tough and you had to block it out in your mind and that’s hard to do with the wind blowing everything around, your bag getting wet and all that; you kind of lose your focus,” Small said. “The rain got to some of them.”
But not North Myrtle Beach senior Colin Reno.
Reno – who is set to play golf at Belmont Abbey College next season – was the Chiefs’ low scorer of the day as he shot a 4-over 76 to help North Myrtle Beach to a morale-boosting victory.
“He plays real well,” Small said of Reno, who was named to the all-tournament team. “But we had some others playing well before the rain got to them, but Colin has been a big improvement since last year. From the end of the state tournament last year until now, a light switch has gone on and he’s more confident. That’s going to carry him far.”
Meanwhile, Waccamaw’s Patrick Golden earned medalist honors with a 2-over 74, and Myrtle Beach’s Kohler Karavan placed second as he shot a 3-over 75. Golden and Karavan were also named to the all-tournament team.
Also helping the Chiefs was Vijay Mishra, who shot a 5-over 77.
Small said North Myrtle Beach had never won the Panther Invitational before, despite competing in the tournament several times.
“We maybe had a top-five in the past, but it’s a great honor to win it,” he said. “They do a great job, and there’s a lot of teams so it was spread out pretty good. The Hackler Course staff does a great job; we play in so many tournaments and know how much work goes in. If they didn’t do it, we wouldn’t have a tournament to play in; a lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t realize. It was great to get a win with those types of teams competing there and of course all the local teams are strong, too; it’s going to be a fun season.”
Socastee shot 335, Carolina Forest finished at 348 and Loris shot 513.
In the meantime, with the season still young, Small is eager to see how his squad builds on the victory.
“That’s what we were hoping for, just the momentum,” Small said. “They realize that all the hard work we’ve done is paying off, but it also kind of paints a target on your back because teams want to shoot for you to prove they’re working hard, too. We can’t sit back and let this be a one trick pony.”