Rarely does a high school golf team boast six golfers capable of shooting par on a given day.
Fortunately for Palo Verde, that’s the case for its boys team this season.
“We’re deeper now than we’ve ever been,” third-year coach Todd Steffenhagen said. “It’s a really talented group. I just hope they have a good year together because it’s kind of rare to get this many kids that can shoot around 75.”
The Panthers, who placed fifth at the Division I state tournament last season, are led by UC Santa Barbara signee Brandon Bauman.
Bauman won the individual region title and placed fifth at state last season before being named the Sunset Player of the Year. The senior has high expectations for this year’s team.
“If we pull together as a team I truly believe we should win state,” Bauman said. “It’s the best team Palo has had in the four years I’ve been here.”
The success will start with Bauman, who has a 2-handicap.
“That kid’s pretty scary,” Steffenhagen said. “He should be one of the top contenders in the state. He’s spent a lot of time on his golf game and it’s really kind of paid off for him. He’s taken his game to the next level and improved from last year.”
The Panthers return the core of last season’s team, including Bauman and second-team All-Sunset Region golfer Bradley Collett. Palo Verde also has added talented golfers in seniors Caden Henderson and David Tottori, and freshman Cameron Meeks.
Henderson finished fifth in the Utah state tournament in 2012 before moving to Las Vegas. He plans on attending Brigham Young on a golf scholarship after completing a two-year church mission.
Tottori is a Faith Lutheran transfer, who sat out last season because of Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association rules. After graduation, he will continue playing golf at Hawaii-Hilo.
Meeks is a highly touted freshman, and son of former professional golfer Eric Meeks.
Steffenhagen admits that his lineup might fluctuate during the season.
“After (Bauman), it’s a pretty tight cluster,” he said. “It’s hard for me to name our (Nos.) two through six because it could be anyone. There are only two to three strokes between them all.”
Having such a close team brings out a healthy competitiveness.
“The team’s definitely very competitive,” Bauman said. “Some days, it comes off stronger than others. Everybody has the capability of pushing the other. Everybody obviously wants to be the low man for the team and some days it doesn’t work out. It’s all good in competition.
“We just need to understand that.”
The Panthers will be looking for their first state title since 2008.
“We just need everyone to compete at the same time,” Bauman said. “And if we do, we should come out on top.”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.