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Goff already making noticeable mark on Skyline’s golf program

Central, Sherando also debut new golf coaches at Curly Licklider tournament

Monty Goff, of Winchester, chips the ball onto the green during the Apple Blossom Golf Classic Tournament held in May at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The 18th Annual Curly Licklider Memorial Golf Tournament showed that Skyline’s golf team has a good amount of work ahead of it, but new head coach Monty Goff is already leaving his mark on the program.

Skyline’s golfers were hard to miss during Wednesday’s 22-team tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, which served as the first major event of the 2018 season for the schools that competed. The Hawks made a fashion statement in their debut under Goff, most of them decked out in navy and white argyle-patterned shorts and skirts in lieu of the standard khaki as part of their official team uniform.

“The minute I took the coaching job I was like ‘well, we’ll definitely have to get Loudmouth uniforms just to be different,'” said Goff, referring to the golf apparel company known for its use of vibrant colors and outlandish patterns, which he’s worn regularly on the golf course since 2003. “They get the plain white shirts and the khaki and I’m just like come on guys. And the kids, they seem to enjoy it. That was nice the first night where they’re actually getting something and it looks different. Because I mean it does. We stand out.”

In time, Skyline’s play on the course may come to demand the same attention as its uniforms. Goff, the PGA assistant golf professional at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, will need some time to make that happen, though.

Outside of senior Lauren Sims’ 6-over-par 78, which tied her for 18th overall among 128 golfers, Skyline’s results at the Curly Licklider tournament were nothing noteworthy. The Hawks, who figure to have eight golfers on their roster this season, had only four available to compete on Wednesday, and Nathan Thomas’ 117 was the team’s second-best mark during the 18-hole round.

Goff’s first order of business, however, has been to focus on the team’s attitude, hence the new uniforms, which received plenty of positive feedback from opposing players and coaches on Wednesday.

“It looks like we’ve got some improving that we need to do but as we get into it it’s gonna be a whole lot easier,” Goff, who was named as Skyline’s coach at the end of June, said shortly after the conclusion of the tournament. “I’ve got great kids. I really do, and the important thing is … regardless of what we shoot, we’ve gotta have fun.”

The improvement on the course should come as Goff gets more time to work with his new assortment of pupils. The Hawks have an advantage over many high school golf teams, particularly those within the local area, given the pedigree of their head coach, who has worked professionally in the sport since 1984.

“This is kind of new to me, this whole situation of doing it, but I know the kids. To a certain extent I’m friends with them, so the relationship with them is good,” said Goff, who has never coached a high school team before. “Its just that now the one advantage that I have is that now I can take my professional part, the PGA golf part, and start working with these kids.”

Goff said he’s leaving it up to each player how much specialized instruction they want based on whether they’ve joined the team simply for the fun of playing golf or to pursue a more significant future in the sport.

And since Shenandoah Valley Golf Club – his place of employment – is Skyline’s home course, Goff has more flexibility than the average golf coach when it comes to providing one-on-one tutelage.

“He’s gonna help a lot of the younger kids, even me, with our swings and everything,” said Sims, who has taken lessons with Goff regularly since the summer before her sophomore season. “We’re all gonna probably drop strokes every round we shoot. He’s a really good mentor and he always tells us if we ever need help or anything he’s always here to help us on the range, putting green, anything like that.”

Shaping Skyline into a more competitive golf program will require Goff to dedicate himself to the team for the long haul, and he insists the current situation is not a short-term solution for a squad that is playing for its third different head coach in the past four seasons. Unless he has to leave the state for some unforeseen reason, Goff said, he’ll be Skyline’s head coach.

“I guess I actually get paid doing this job. I don’t know how much,” Goff said with a laugh, “… because that’s not why I took the job.”

Goff is one of three new golf coaches in the Daily’s coverage area this season, and though he’s easily the most experienced and qualified for the position, he’s got some competition for being the most eccentric of the group.

Central first-year head coach Barry Arey made his own fashion statement on Wednesday, as he could be seen going shoeless throughout the Curly Licklider tournament. Falcons senior Sam Shifflett remarked afterward, “He’s not like any other coach, I can promise you that.”

“He’s just a funny guy,” Shifflett said of Arey. “I’ve never seen somebody walk around barefoot all the time. I don’t even think he brought shoes today, like I don’t think he put on shoes when he left home this morning. He’s always just trying to make you laugh. He’s never gonna yell at you. He’s always positive behind you, so it’s good to have that.”

Arey, a former administrator in the Shenandoah County Public Schools system, is coaching golf for the first time and is tasked with guiding a program that lost three of its top six golfers from last season to graduation.

“We’re probably gonna do a little bit more practicing on the range, around the green, maybe a little less playing, maybe, than some of the coaches before, particularly with our younger (golfers),” said Arey, who served as Central’s boys tennis coach last spring, also a career first. “Since I’ve got four or five freshmen, it’s probably gonna be more teaching really than it is (me being) a golf coach.”

Sherando also has a new face at the helm of its golf program as Joe Knight, the school’s swim coach, is filling in on an interim basis for longtime coach Rob Wright, who has stepped away from the role this season due to health reasons.

Knight, like Goff and Arey, is coaching golf for the first time, and he said Wednesday’s debut at the Curly Licklider Memorial Golf Tournament was a “bit overwhelming.”

“We’re still in that feeling-out stage,” Knight said of the Warriors. “They’re getting to know me, I’m getting to know them. But what I’ve seen of them, it’s just a really good bunch of kids. I think I’m gonna really enjoy this season and enjoy working with them. We’ve already talked about establishing some goals for ourselves and we’ll see how that turns out.”