By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Zack Henry knows the time in between each shot on the golf course is crucial -- those moments spent simply waiting for other golfers to take their swing.
The wait can be long, painfully long sometimes, particularly if a golfer has some momentum building, but Henry admits it's that time that separates the good golfers from the great ones.
"It's tough because you've got block it out," Henry said. "You've got to think of everything but [the break]. Sometimes you had to wait 20 minutes between each hole, even 20 minutes between each shot. The waits are ridiculous and then you'd come in and have to shoot. Experience is big here because these younger guys get impatient. You just have to stay calm."
But Henry is not a "younger guy." As a senior and Skyline's No. 1 golfer, Henry is the anchor for the Hawks team and Thursday he showed how he's able to separate himself between the good ones and the great ones. Henry earned the lowest score at the annual Curly Licklider Invitational at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, registering five birdies and just two bogies to earn a 68. Of the other golfers in the 25-school tournament, not one finished under par.
"The pin placements were tough out there," Henry said. "They put them on some slopes, so I can see where people would struggle out there, especially with putting. But I got off to a good start. My putting's been struggling lately, but today I kind of got it going."
Scattered thunderstorms disrupted the golfers early on, as play had to be suspended after just a few holes, resulting in a delay of 30 minutes. By the time golfers resumed play, the greens were soaked and the humidity rose considerably, forcing players to adjust to the unfavorable conditions.
And as the scores rolled into the clubhouse, it was clear the storm had been a nuisance for everyone. While Henry finished with a 68, his teammates weren't so fortunate. An 89 from Joe Dawkins, 95 from Robert Willard and 101 from Ryan Dyke left Skyline with a team score of 353, 34 strokes off first-place finisher Albemarle High School, which finished with 319.
Centreville finished second with a 321, while Sherando was the highest-placing local school, shooting a collective 328. Cory Hammons and Chris Slater each shot a 79, while Cameron Wiseman and Kolby Madigan finished with 85 to help the Warriors finish in the top five.
Handley shot a collective 343, as Kyle Stickley and Aubrey Wilkerson turned in impressive scores of 82 and 81, respectively. An 85 from Ted Gronauer and a 95 from George Craig rounded out the Judges' team score. Not far behind Handley was Strasburg, which despite having a young squad this season, finished with a 350, led by the Rams' No. 1 Derek Davis (82).
Both Millbrook and James Wood finished within a few shots of Skyline, as the Pioneers finished with a 354 and the Colonels scored 356. Clarke County finished with a 375, while Warren County shot 452.
And although the Hawks weren't able to take the team title, Henry's outing Thursday showed Skyline's potential on the course. Last season, Henry and former teammate Ryan Rettberg dueled as the team's top two golfers. This season, however, the show belongs to Henry, although Rettberg could still be seen lingering on the greens Thursday.
"He didn't talk to me much during my round, obviously," Henry said, "But last year we had a little rivalry going."
Rettberg could only observe this time, however. This season belongs to Henry.
"This year it's my shot at it," Henry said, "so I'm happy with the way this season has started."