Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Growing up Ted Bridges got used to playing whatever sport was in season.
As a three-sport athlete in high school athlete Bridges is still used to switching sports with the changing seasons.
Baseball in the summer, basketball in the winter and golf in the spring all present elements that appeal to the West Branch junior.
One aspect of golf in particular has always stuck with Bridges.
“I really think it’s just how rewarding it can be but how hard you have to work to get to that rewarding point,” Bridges said. “A lot of people describe golf as love hate relationship because it can go so good but it can also go so wrong. I think having those times when it’s really on is really fun.”
While some golfers can’t stand the inevitable highs and lows that come with the sport Bridges has always embraced those swings.
That proved to be pivotal for Bridges this season as he experienced both ends of that spectrum in back-to-back postseason meets.
Bridges shot an 88 at the sectional meet on May 11 as West Branch came within one stroke of having its season end.
A week later Bridges fired a six-over-par 78 to earn runner-up medalist honors at the district meet while helping West Branch return to the Class 2A state meet for the first time since 2006.
“You know you are going to have some swings, that’s the nature of golf but in my opinion the highs overshadow the lows,” Bridges said. “Even the low points make you want to come back and play just to prove to yourself that you are better than that but the low rounds are definitely what keep you coming back.”
Bridges and his West Branch teammates are aiming to close their season on a high this week at the Class 2A state tournament that runs Thursday and Friday at American Legion Memorial Golf Course in Marshalltown.
West Branch will be making its first state golf appearance in 12 seasons when it tees it up at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
“It means a lot to us,” Bridges said. “Obviously we didn’t get the job done at the conference tournament losing by one stroke but going to the state tournament in a big deal, 12 years in the making.”
The close call at the River Valley Conference meet was actually a high note for Bridges in what has been a roller coaster three weeks for the Bears number one golfer.
Bridges shot a 75 to win the first RVC title of his career as West Branch finished one stroke away from a second consecutive RVC team title.
The Bears shot a 332, one shot off the pace of team champion Wilton.
A week later West Branch nearly saw its season come to an end at the 2A sectional meet.
Bridges shot a season-high 88 at the sectional meet as West Branch shot a 352 at Wahkonsa Country Club in Wilton to edge Regina by one stroke for the final spot at the district meet.
On the back nine at the sectional meet Bridges admitted he thought his season might be over.
“After the front nine coming in with a higher score than my average it made me nervous I was just hoping my team would pull through and it was definitely a big sigh of relief,” Bridges said. “We had goals and moving on out of sectionals was part of the way to get to our goals but we expected to get out of there almost getting eliminated then was not on our agenda.”
Bridges and the Bears made the close call at sectionals ancient history with its performance at the district meet last week.
Bridges shot a 78 and West Branch fired a 325 to win the district title.
“It’s good to see us on the up slope playing our best golf toward the state tournament,” Bridges said. “It’s exciting to see us playing well this time of year.”
Only three teams in the nine-team 2A field recorded better scores at districts than West Branch.
Carroll Kuemper shot a 318, Roland-Story record a 321 and Dike-New Hartford a 322.
Bridges is one of only eight 2A golfers to enter the state meet after shooting a score of 78 or better at the district meet.
“It’s kind of nice having the pressure off of us,” Bridges said. “At sectionals and districts it was not as light of a mood but knowing this is the end it takes that pressure off. We hope to play well but in the end we just want to have fun and experience it all.”
Regina sophomore Mark Schomer will also compete at the Class 2A state meet as an individual qualifier.
Clear Creek Amana sophomore Brandon McCarty will take part in the Class 3A state meet at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge on Thursday and Friday.
McCarty is tied for the third best score from a district meet after shooting a 72 last Friday.