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The fall has been a season full of firsts for Iowa City Liberty.
The inaugural boys’ golf season is among them.
The new North Liberty high school has played in five events so far this season and has already shown progress under head coach Sean McCarty. The Lightning posted 362 at the Davenport Assumption Invitational on Wednesday at Duck Creek Golf Course, bettering their first 18-hole performance by nearly 100 strokes.
“It’s been fun,” said McCarty, a three-time state medalist at West Branch and a former University of Iowa All-American. “It’s exciting to see how things progress.”
McCarty wasn’t sure what to expect, starting the program from scratch. Nineteen golfers came out for the squad, but only two had participated in competitive tournaments.
“We are inexperienced,” McCarty said. “We’re young, but the future looks good.”
McCarty started at square one with most of his golfers. He had to spend more time on mechanics and rules than other coaches. The players have been receptive and have worked hard, learning as much as possible.
“We have to work more on swings than course management,” McCarty said. “We have to go over a lot of rules.”
McCarty is the Head PGA Golf Professional at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville, where Liberty practices and plays home events. He is a Hall of Fame golfer, winning state titles from 1989-91 and finishing as runner-up medalist in 1988 as a freshman.
McCarty was Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1992 and an all-Big Ten Conference performer before playing three seasons on the Nike Tour. He also qualified for the 2003 U.S. Open.
He took on a mammoth task, guiding a program in its infancy. McCarty embraced the opportunity, enjoying the work with youth and sharing his passion for the sport.
“I love coaching,” McCarty said. “It’s worked out great being at our home course. I like giving back.”
Liberty assembled a full 12-event schedule, even though it is not an official member of the Mississippi Valley Conference. McCarty said he is looking for one to replace a meet that was rained out.
The Lightning continue to improve. McCarty said they have three to five solid players and strong competition for the final lineup, which is pushing all the starters. They averaged about 205 in three nine-hole events.
Connor Roach has a team-best 47.67 nine-hole average. Before Wednesday, A.J. Meyer led the Lightning with a 104 over 18 holes.
Bo Gryp shot 84 at Duck Creek Wednesday. Roach came in at 91 and Meyer carded 93. Shane Andrews added 94.
“Right now, we’re going day-to-day,” McCarty said. “They are improving. Each week they are getting better.
“The more repetitions with the golf swing, the better. It’s showing.”
XAVIER HOSTS CRANDIC MEET
Cedar Rapids Xavier will host the annual CRANDIC boys’ golf meet Tuesday at St. Andrews. The meet will feature Class 4A Cedar Rapids/Marion Metro and Iowa City schools.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy owns the best team 18-hole average (308) and combined adjusted average (154.26). The Saints are next at 316.25 and 157.40. The Cougars are searching for their first CRANDIC team title since 2014.
Cedar Rapids Washington has won the last two CRANDIC crowns. The Warriors average 324 per 18 holes.
Iowa City Liberty Coach Sean McCarty said he expects the Lightning to make their first trip to the CRANDIC.
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