FISHERS — Gregg Greene had no complaints.
Although New Palestine fell to No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern 150-169 on Wednesday, the veteran Dragons golf coach said it was the best his team has done against the Royals in recent memory. And the weather, which was near perfect, didn’t hurt Greene’s mood either.
With his top four golfers separated by just two strokes, Greene again found comfort in the day-to-day battle for New Palestine’s No. 1 spot. Senior Blake Barnette didn’t play with the top group Wednesday but led the Dragons with a 41 at Ironwood Golf Course.
Barnette shot a 42 one day before against Franklin Central, while freshman Quinn Dobbins led the way with a 40. Barnette, Dobbins, Elijah Domogala, Nick Lyon, Chris Guhl and Matt Kelley have all shot the lowest round for New Palestine (3-3) at one point this season. Each meet, regardless of the opponent, has been a battle.
Dobbins played the first three holes well at Ironwood but lacked consistency throughout and finished with a 48. Domogala was right behind Barnette and carded a 42, while Kelley and Lucas Swanson, another player in the mix up top, each finished with rounds of 43.
“We have a lot of guys that are close, and that’s a good thing to have,” Greene said. “Even the ones who are not close to them had good starts today. Once we get the (ugly) holes solved, it will bring everyone else down.
“We kind of started something with the girls program. We are only as good as our No. 13 player. Everything we can do to improve those guys will improve the guys up front, too. I think we are seeing that. Not having to keep any high score (today) helped.”
Greene said most of the team had likely not played the nine-hole course they saw at Ironwood Wednesday, which made the team’s final score even more impressive. And for once, mother nature actually gave the Dragons solid playing conditions against one of the state’s top programs.
“We didn’t know ahead of time which (nine) we were playing, and before this we have only played here one time,” Greene said. “I don’t even know the holes well. Some courses, on the way, we will try and let them know where to go and where not to hit.
“Weather played a factor in it, too. Normally this match falls on extremely bad weather, hard rain and wind. It is a matter of survival. Tonight, they could just play golf.”
For Dobbins, who Greene said had a shot to be the team’s No. 1 player before the season began, the meet against Hamilton Southeastern was a learning experience. After carding the aforementioned 40 against Franklin Central at a very challenging Smock Golf Course, according to Greene, the freshman learned how up and down the game can be — if he didn’t already know.
“Working together (with the team) has helped me,” Dobbins said, who took lessons in middle school. “I don’t think my driver was working tonight, but I chipped a lot better than I have been. I need to be more consistent.”
Barnette was the only Dragon to advance past the sectional last season and is primed for another run in his final year of high school. In addition to the meet against the Royals, Barnette led the team in its first match of the season with an 18-hole round of 82 at The Players Club in Yorktown.
Dobbins shot an 85 against Yorktown and also led the team with an 87 last Saturday at the Center Grove Invitational.
New Palestine will play again on Tuesday at Morristown. It will face county and conference foe Mt. Vernon on May 1 with the Hancock County meet scheduled for May 2.
Hamilton Southeastern – 150
New Palestine – 169
Blake Barnette – 41
Elijah Domogala – 42
Lucas Swanson – 43
Matt Kelley – 43