Lonoke’s Jackrabbit golf team is down to two players for 2017.
For team purposes, Class 4A schools must count three scores, so seniors Ryan Robinson and Will Armstrong will compete as individuals.
“When the golf course in Lonoke (Mallard Point) was open, we practiced there every day, and when it closed, we ended up having to go to StoneLinks (in North Little Rock), then it closed,” sixth-year coach LouAnn Howell said. “That’s when Rolling Hills (in Cabot) stepped up and let us play and practice there.
“The closest public courses are The Greens (at North Hills) in Sherwood and Burns Park. If your parents don’t play when you’re young, then you don’t play. There’s no public course for kids to go get on. As soon as (the Lonoke course) closed, we really didn’t add anybody.
“We’ve hoped somebody would pick it up. You’ve got to play golf to learn golf. If their parents play, they get to places to play, but if they don’t — it’s not like you can go open a gym and let kids practice. Golf’s a dying game right now in Lonoke.”
Robinson earned all-state honors as a junior, shooting 77 to tie for fourth in the Class 4A Boys State Golf Tournament at Stuttgart Country Club. He missed qualifying for the Arkansas High School Overall Championship by one stroke. He was sixth in the 2-4A District Tournament.
Howell said Robinson could “absolutely” contend for a state title and a berth in the Overall, which requires a top-three finish in state tournament.
“He probably had qualified for the Overall last year until he got to the back nine,” she said. “He had about three bad holes. He was all-conference as a freshman, sophomore and junior. He really would like to qualify for the Overall.”
Robinson has been playing golf since he was 6. Armstrong has played the Arkansas State Golf Association’s Monk Wade Father-Son Championship the last several years.
“Ryan’s got the experience and he certainly has all the shots in his bag,” Howell said. “He can hit them all. He’s just got to play smart. The Father-Son is always a good start for Will to get that experience and make a memory with Dad.”
The 2-4A District Tournament, set for late September, will also include Baptist Prep, Central Arkansas Christian, eStem, Heber Springs, Riverview, Southside Batesville and Stuttgart. The top two teams and next four individuals not from those teams will advance to the Class 4A State Tournament, which will be at Red Apple Inn on Oct. 3.
Lonoke was to play Tuesday at Red Apple against Heber Springs and Thursday at Tannenbaum, also against the Panthers.