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FALCON SPORTS: FCHS golf team swings into action

Fort Campbell Courier Aug 2, 2018

Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | August 2, 2018

During a team practice Tuesday at Cole Park Golf Club, Ralph Duke, Fort Campbell High School golf coach, explains to Dutch Arnold, (left) incoming FCHS senior, how to effectively use a sand wedge to hit the ball onto the green. Arnold’s teammates, Tim Royar (center left) and Nicholas Sanders, incoming eighth-grade students at Mahaffey Middle School, also listen to Duke’s instructions.

Hannah Duncan, incoming Fort Campbell High School senior, kneels down to line up her ball Tuesday during a FCHS golf team practice at Cole Park Golf Course. For their first match of the season, the Falcons will compete against Dawson Springs High School Saturday at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Par

With three Fort Campbell High School seniors and two Mahaffey Middle School eighth-grade students, the Falcons Golf team is ready to hit the green this fall.

The five-person golf team is led by a new coach, Ralph Duke.

“I’m a retiree, so I have an affinity for the military and military Families,” Duke said. “I have a passion for golf and a passion for working with young people. The high school needed help, so here I am.”

This is Duke’s first time coaching golf, but not his first time coaching. He spent many years coaching basketball teams while his son was growing up.  “As a new coach, I really just want to build on the foundation these seniors already have. I want to be able to hopefully carry that over into the upcoming season. I also want to spark some more interest in the program,” he said.

Duke began playing golf as a high school student when his basketball coach encouraged him to join the golf team.

“I’ve been playing golf ever since, when time allowed,” he said. “Golf is a game for a lifetime. You can play it as long as you are physically able. You can play with your friends or alone. The great thing about golf is that you are constantly trying to improve.”

Having a small team gives Duke a chance to offer one-on-one guidance during practice.

“This is a great group to start with,” Duke said. “Some of the older players are able to share some of their experiences with the younger players.”

The team began practicing together about two weeks ago at Cole Park Golf Course.

There are four returning players on the team – Dutch Arnold, Riley Boyle, Hannah Duncan, incoming FCHS seniors, and Tim Royar, incoming eighth-grade student at Mahaffey. Nicholas Sanders, an incoming eighth-grade student at Mahaffey, is the only new member of the team.

This is Royar’s second year on the team. By the end of this season, he hopes to shoot under 50. Royar attended a golf camp this summer, that prepared him for the upcoming season, he said.

“I want to get the ball into the hole with less putts. I also want to improve my chipping skills,” Royar said.

His fairway shots are his strength, but Royar struggles with putting, he said.

Royar began playing golf about two years ago. Royar said he enjoys playing on the high school team.

“My teammates are great and I like being at the golf course with everyone,” he said.

Sanders said he has much to learn this season. He began practicing early by himself this summer, and he has been focusing on the basics to improve his game.

“I’ve mostly been working on my grip, stance and swing and hitting the ball,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he can be an asset to the team because he understands how to manipulate and control the ball on the course.

“I can see the angle of the ball pretty well and I can feel the slope of the course, which is a strength,” he said.

This season, Sanders hopes to improve his swing.

“I also want to improve how I hit the ball – how strongly and where I hit the ball,” he said.

The FCHS golf team will compete against Dawson Springs High School during their first match of the season Saturday at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park.

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