BEACHWOOD, Oh - The Varsity Blue Golf Cats competed this past weekend at Canterbury Golf Club for the Kiely Cup. The two-day tournament took place on September 19 and September 20, which saw the Wildcats take home a second-place finish with two-day scores of 313-301 for a team total of 614. Archbishop Hoban came in first, shooting a team score of 596, setting a new Kiely Cup record.
The Kiely Cup is an excellent indication of how the team will match up for a State Championship. Head Golf Coach PJ Myers ’99 knows there need to be improvements but is happy where his guys stand with just a couple more matches until Sectional play begins. “We’re in good shape right now; there are improvements we need to make,” Myers says. “We’re on the right track to compete at States and I’m looking forward to the process of getting better as a team.”
In the two-day tournament at Canterbury Golf Club, the Wildcat golfers had to battle through a rigorous course and understand each unique hole. “These guys are coming along with their mental and emotional approach to the game,” explains Myers. “We have a lot more work to do this season and I see these guys putting the time in and it’s paying off on the golf course.”
There is a unique feel when you step on the course at Canterbury. The course has a particular tradition and a rich history. A course that has seen some of the world’s best golfers in the late Arnold Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Jack Nicklaus and many more have graced the land at Canterbury. The student-athletes have the opportunity to play at one of the most prestigious courses in the country.
“The kids love this tournament, but I’m not sure if they appreciate the totality of their surroundings, but in five to ten years, they’ll be talking about being able to play at Canterbury,” says program special assistant Bob Koch ’64. “These kids will end up having a better appreciation for the sport of golf.”
From the student’s perspective, Topher Reed was humbled to participate in this year’s Kiely Cup. “This is unreal, there are a lot of great golf courses in this area, but there is no other challenge like Canterbury,” Reed explains. “One bad shot can cost you so much; you just have to focus, its mentally draining, but you have to do that to play well.”
Reed will be continuing his academic and golfing career at The Ohio State University next fall and put on a tremendous display of his talent at Canterbury. The future Buckeye showed mental patience on the course in two days, with a significant improvement between day one and day two. On Sunday, Reed shot a 78; on day two, he made the adjustments needed and shot a 71, one under par at Canterbury. Individually Reed came in third for his total score at 149, being a crucial part of the Cats’ second-place effort.
“On day one, I was forcing it too much at the pin on every hole,” Reed explains. “On day two, I was playing the right way, not attacking every pin and going for the greens and staying patient. I was waiting for the birdies to drop and they came on day two.” Reed’s dad, Christopher, jokingly added, “He is an absolute show off; he did this for his dad.”
Junior Nick Piesen as well had a significant turnaround between days one and two. Piesen, one of the top golfers in the state, shot an 80 on day one. Piesen would lower his score by six shots finishing with a 74 on day two for a total of 154.
Coach Myers was thrilled with his team’s improvement in the two-day tournament and notes day one was a feel out of the course. “I thought the conditions were a little harder on day one and it took a lot of patience from our guys to understand this course,” explains Myers. “The ultimate difference was our guys getting used to the course; mentally, these guys stayed strong from the first hole to the final hole. When you see guys improve their scores by four to five shots, they are doing their job of learning and executing.”
Coach Koch mentions the determining factor between both days and how the student-athletes could come into day two with a good amount of confidence. “They were determined in day one, but they came into day two with a much different determination,” Koch says. “Despite this being a tough course, they believed they would perform well and they did, which was great to see, Bradley Chill, for example, was three over right away and that is what he ended with and that was something to see and that is how these kids are, they are fighters.”
With the second-place finish, the Varsity Blue Golf Cats understand there is plenty of room for improvement before the regular season concludes. “We’re in good shape right now; there are improvements we need to make on the golf course,” emphasizes Reed. “We’re on the right track to compete at states and I’m looking forward to the process of getting better as a team.”
Of course, the giant in Ohio High School Golf is Archbishop Hoban. Hoban was brilliant at the Kiely Cup as Nolan Haynes came away with the lowest score overall from all individuals. On the opening day, Haynes shot three-under par at a 69 and on day two, he shot one-under par with a 71. This was a Kiely Cup record for the best individual performance. Coach Myers gave his praise for the Knights Golf team. “Hoban is the best team in the state, actually one of the best high school golf teams I have ever seen,” Myers says. “Their play reflects that they pick each other up and the Kiely Cup was an indication of how much more work we have to do to compete for a State Championship.”
Last season, the Golf Cats placed first at ten invitationals and would go on to become the runner-ups in 2020. “Our kids last year, we were great, but we peaked early,” explains Koch. “This year, we haven’t peaked yet, we’re trending upward and we’re on the rise, which is exciting for us; PJ has us thinking in the right direction.”
A couple of invitationals remain on the schedule before the Sectional play begins on the first week of October. Reed is taking in as much as he can on the golf course while being a senior leader for the Cats. “This is awesome; I’m taking in as much as I can this season,” mentions Reed. “I love this team and talking with the guys on and off the course; I’m taking as much information as I can before I go to Ohio State next year and be a leader there as well and coach Myers has helped me exponentially.”
Coach Myers kept it simple when looking ahead in the season “There is still a lot in the tank for us.” The Wildcats will seek their third State Championship, the first since the 2002 season. Before the quest begins, the Varsity Blue Cats will have three more invitationals remaining as they will compete at the St. Edward Invitational, Chagrin Valley Invitational and Hoban invitational. As the season transitions into post-season play, the SIBN will attempt to bring coverage from Sectional, Districts and State Tournaments.