|Sophomore Jake Jensen gets some advice from coach Jon Holmes|
The loss of three seniors to graduation and two top underclassmen who did not return this spring, however, leaves coach Jon Holmes with a 2014 squad greener than the fairways at Augusta National.
"With everyone back we were looking for a move up to second or third in the conference," Holmes said. "Now we will be more focused on the end of the year and next year with all of the young and inexperienced players we have."
Three veterans return form last season: senior Tyler VanWinkle, who played primarily with the junior varsity last spring, sophomore Jake Jensen and ninth-grader Darby Grengs.
Holmes is also counting on junior Sam Newcomb and three freshmen--Isaac Ferm, Lucas Berg and Andrew Meyer--to make major contributions to the varsity effort this spring.
"The guys that are out are definitely range rats and golf enthusiasts," Holmes said. "Hopefully by having so many golf junkies we will be able to make some big strides."
One area that Holmes want to stress to his young team is short game improvement.
"The courses we traditionally play in the Missota Conference are not extremely long," he said. "If we can get the newcomers to be more obsessed with their short games rather than average driving distance it will help. We'll need to make up strokes around and on the green in pressure situations. That will be our focus."
Holmes said defending conference champion Chanhassen should again be the team to beat in the Missota with Chaska, New Prague and Shakopee all expected to field strong teams. The always-tough Section 1AA field gets even tougher in 2014 with the additions of Lakeville South and Hastings.
"It will be a huge accomplishment for any individual or team that advances to day two in one of the best sections in the state," Holmes said.
The Tigers coaching staff remains a family affair with Holmes' father Terry Holmes returning as junior varsity coach.
Weather permitting, the Tigers open their season Wednesday, Apr. 16, at the Prior Lake Invitational at the Wilds Golf Club.