For Columbus North sophomore Spencer Fairbanks, the fact that Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel is hosting the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals seems fitting.
It’s the beginning of a new era.
Prairie View is the host site for the first time, replacing Franklin’s The Legends Golf Club, which hosted the event the previous 14 years. The 36-hole event will be played with 18 holes today and Wednesday.
Fairbanks has started a new era at North as well. After the Bull Dogs’ five seniors won the state championship in 2014 and then graduated, a new crop of talented players has burst onto the scene.
Story continues below gallery
A rebuilding North team wasn’t able to defend its title, but Fairbanks improved to the extent where he is still in the running for an individual state championship, something his brother Christian Fairbanks won last season, sharing the crown with teammate Michael VanDeventer.
Spencer Fairbanks, who shot 74 in the Providence Regional on Thursday to nail down the fifth and final individual berth into the state tourney, will compete against 99 competitors.
“I will try to represent North well,” Spencer Fairbanks said.
He will try to play well despite his unfamiliarity with the course. Besides his practice round Monday at Prairie View, Fairbanks only played one other partial round there earlier in the regular season that was rained out.
“I thought it was a really tough course with a lot of bunkers and a lot of water,” he said. “The course fits my swing pretty well, but I need to be consistent.”
With rain in the forecast, Fairbanks isn’t sure what to expect today, but he believes he knows enough about the layout of the course to perform well.
On Monday, he hit balls from different spots to see where the trouble areas will be and he also tried to get a good read on the greens.
North coach Doug Bieker said Fairbanks will do OK despite not having played the course more than a couple of times.
“Because he is so young, he hadn’t seen a lot of the courses we played this season,” Bieker said. “Usually when we played in a tournament, it was his first time seeing that course.
“I think he is capable of finishing in the top 10, and that would be my goal for him.”
A top 10 finish would earn his all-state honors, but Fairbanks said he is more interested in getting experience that will help him, and his team, in the coming years. He will be playing for the first time this high school season without his teammates and wants plenty of company next season when the state tournament rolls around.
However, his teammates just will be watching today. Bieker said the strategy today would be to be a little conservative and try to stay in position for a possible charge on Wednesday.
“The second day, we will look at the leaderboard a little more,” Bieker said.
Bieker also said the expected rain might help his sophomore.
“Not everyone will want to play in those conditions,” Bieker said.
North’s head coach said he expected the course to be set up extremely difficult for the tournament, but he thinks that might change if the course is soaked due to the incoming storms.
“It will be interesting to see what they decide to do,” Bieker said.
Whatever happens, Bieker hopes Fairbanks enjoys the experience, one he earned with hard work.
“Spencer has come a long way since the beginning of the season,” Bieker said. “In our first tournament, he wasn’t even in the lineup, so he wasn’t in our top five.”
Fairbanks tees off on No. 10 at 8:54 a.m. alongside Oak Hill’s Michael Law and Homestead’s Nick Myers, both seniors, and Harrison’s Grant Brettnacher, a junior.
79th annual IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals
WHEN: 8 a.m. today and Wednesday
WHERE: Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel
ADMISSION: $12, ticket good for both days
LIVE SCORING: Hosted at BirdieFire.com
LOCAL ENTRANT: Columbus North sophomore Spencer Fairbanks tees off at 8:54 a.m. on No. 10