The Menlo School golf team’s 2013 season didn’t get off to the start it wanted as the Knights floundered in an early-season tournament, finishing in 15th place out of two dozen teams.
Menlo golf coach Dave Buchanan was taken aback by the result.
“I was a little concerned. I was kind of surprised how poorly we did,” Buchanan said. “The guys have been playing well since.”
So well, in fact, the Knights celebrated their third-straight West Bay Athletic League championship by beating rival Sacred Heart Prep 198-201 at Palo Alto Golf Club Wednesday afternoon. The Knights went undefeated in 2011 to capture the WBAL title and 9-1 last year in sharing the crown with Sacred Heart Prep.
The win Wednesday capped Menlo’s second undefeated season in three years and runs their record to 29-1 in WBAL rounds over the last three seasons.
“This is a total team effort,” Buchanan said. “Most high school matches are won in the 4 through 6 spots. Each team usually has three good guys.”
Not only did Menlo have a solid top of the order, it also has the league’s best player in senior Andrew Buchanan, the coach’s son. Buchanan won or tied for lowest score honors in every Menlo match.
“That’s hard to do,” coach Buchanan said.
Senior Max Garnick and sophomore Ethan Wong give the Knights a potent 1-2 punch in the two spots behind Buchanan. Wong played behind Buchanan last season as a freshman, while Garnick provides that senior leadership all good teams need and have. Riley Burgess has been solid in the No. 3 spot, while a pair of freshmen in name only — Jeff Herr and William Hsieh — give the Knights some potency in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively.
“They’re as good as any No. 5 or No. 6 [player] in the league,” coach Buchanan said.
It also helps to have everyone on the team with the ability to shoot scores in the 30s. Buchanan said every one of his top six golfers has shot a round in the 30s, which is something not a lot of teams can claim.
“If you want to be good in high school golf, any score that starts with a ‘3’ is the key,” Buchanan said. “We call it ‘3x,’ a three and any other number. The six guys who played [Wednesday] have all shot 3xs this year. If six guys put up a 3x score, you’re going to win by 10 strokes.”
Buchanan said the other key to putting together a championship season is avoiding the big score. Very rarely did any of the Menlo golfers have an off day when they shot something in the 50s. If they did, it was limited to one golfer.
“We didn’t really have many blowups,” Buchanan said. “Or have two blowups at the same time. Anything over a 43 is unexpected for us.”Needless to say, there weren’t too many 43 this season for the Knights.