The Ripley golf team had a successful 2016 season.
The Blue Jays put an individual in the district tournament for the third consecutive year, they finished third as a team in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference Tournament and they came away with fifth as a team in the OHSAA Division III Southwest Ohio Sectional Golf Tournament – the best finish in team history.
This fall, they’re hoping that success will continue behind the duo of Brian Dunn and Peyton Fyffe.
“The last three years we’ve had kids individually go to the district. I definitely want to keep that going,” said Ripley coach Michael Scanlan. “If they come together here over the next couple of weeks, we can maybe scare some people at the sectional.”
The two manage the top spots on the Blue Jays’ roster. Both contain the ability to shoot a nine-hole score between 39-45, according to the 23rd-year Ripley head coach.
Dunn entered the season with three years of varsity experience. He’s received All-SHAC honors twice, and as a senior this year, he’s looked upon to lead in more than just his play on the golf course.
“He just has this presence about him. When he walks in the room, when he’s in the classroom – it’s hard to pinpoint what he actually does, but you know when he walks in the room and you’re talking to him, he’s just very engaging and likes to listen more than talk,” said Scanlan. “A lot of times when he’s coaching these other kids, he just pulls them aside and they just look at him right in the eyes and listen to him very intently.”
He began playing around the age of 12, learning the game from his father. Because his father was self-taught, Dunn says much of what he does contains his own little twist from his father’s instruction or from what he’s picked up reading golf magazines.
Scanlan provides drills during practices at Kenton Station Golf Course in Maysville and instruction when the team hits the back nine at Hilltop Golf Course in Manchester – Ripley’s home course and Dunn’s personal favorite.
Dunn played his first match of the season on Aug. 10, at Buckeye Hills Country Club, where he shot a 13-over 49 on the front nine. On Wednesday, in his second match of the season, he had Ripley’s best score with a 6-over 42 on the back nine at Hilltop. The Jays returned the next day, where he shot a 50. He’s hoping to consistently shoot lower as the season moves on, after averaging 46 strokes per nine holes last year, so he can place in the top-10 in the SHAC and later move on to the district tournament.
“A lot of practice is going to have to go on, because to do that is not an easy accomplishment,” said Dunn following Wednesday’s round. “The sectional tournament, every year that I’ve played there, I’ve been two or three strokes behind moving on individually. Just cutting off the chunk shots and the little mistakes I need to fix and it’ll get me there.”
Dunn was the number three golfer last year. He’s played behind Dylan Phillips, who made it to the district tournament in 2014 and 2016, and Scottie Ott, who did it in 2015. Now, the senior must deal with the pressure of being number one.
“The more people I have around me watching, since I’ve usually been in the higher spots, like three or four man, you don’t get much of an audience,” said Dunn. “Going in as the one-man, I’m going to have a lot of eyes set on me and it’s just all mental and keeping my head in it.”
Fyffe faces a similar pressure playing in the two-spot as a sophomore, but just focuses on what he can control.
“Coming in as a sophomore and coming up one and two, I know there’s pressure up there for me, but I don’t think I need to feel pressure. If I just go out and play my game, then it’ll come,” said Fyffe. “There’s pressure here and there, it just depends on what matches you’re playing, who you’re playing – it comes. Pressure is always there, but I don’t think I need to feel pressure when it comes to just playing my game.”
The sophomore is in his second year of playing varsity golf. He shot a 14-over 50 on the back nine at Laurel Oaks Golf Course in the first match on Aug. 7. He bounced back to become the medalist at the next meet on Aug. 10, with a 1-over 37 on the front nine at Buckeye Hills. On Wednesday, he shot an 8-over 44 on the back nine at Hilltop. Once again he bounced back, becoming the medalist the next day with a 2-over 38.
Fyffe, who began playing when he was around four years old, is hoping he can put it all together at the SHAC Tournament this fall, after having one bad round cost him last year. Along with getting All-League, he’s dreamed of making it to the district tournament.
“It’s going to take me being relaxed, focused, in the zone. When you’re in the zone, there’s nothing that can stop you. I’ve proven that before. I’ve come out here and shot four or five under. It just happens. You have your days,” said Fyffe. “It’s a very tough sport, but if I get focused, get my mind right before the match, I should be up to par and should be able to play with anybody.”
There are four other golfers on the team hoping to help Ripley chase down North Adams and West Union in the SHAC. Junior Corey Germann and his brother, Cody Germann – a sophomore – claim the three and four slots, while Jacob Castle is in the five spot in the competitive playing order. Senior Kamri-Beth Offutt has seen time in the competitive order this year also, as the Germann brothers are also on the soccer team and sometimes cannot make matches.
Scanlan believes the three rounding out the top five will make the most difference, and believes if they shoot between 46-50, they’ll have a chance at a similar finish in the conference as last year.
While he’s got the team aiming for that, he know his top-two golfers will be aiming for the top at the four-day SHAC Tournament, which starts at Hilltop on Sept. 12, and aiming for a strong showing during the sectional tournament at Walden Ponds Golf Club on Sept. 26, so they can keep the school’s district tournament streak going.
“I’m really hoping one of my kids gets to district because we’ve been on a roll with that and I definitely want to keep that going. Brian and Peyton are real driven to have that,” said Scanlan. “They take four individuals out of there without those four teams. If both of them do, that would be wonderful. Hopefully we can just at least get one to come out of there.”