Mexico freshman golfer reflects on first state trip

Mexico freshman golfer reflects on first state trip
Dave Faries

As the fall sports season wound down, Lilly Knipfel was on a soggy course in New Bloomfield competing in the state girls golf championship.

She had been to state before – all four years, in fact.

Last week, as spring sports neared its end, Aiden Knipfel teed up in Farmington on another dripping, windswept course for the boys state golf championship. It was the Mexico freshman’s first trip to state.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be,” Aiden Knipfel said.

If there is little pomp at a state golf tournament, there is quite a bit of regulation. Tee times are staggered, course marshals check scorecards to update results and fans must keep to golf’s treasured rules for attire.

For those who earn the right to play, it’s a different environment: an unfamiliar course, new faces and an overnight stay.

For Knipfel, the novelty of dining with the coaches at the end of each day stood out. The tension of a round of competitive golf had lifted. There were new places to try.

“We ate at a steakhouse, and a barbecue place the second day,” he said.

But it is also two rounds of golf grouped with players one has likely never met. And because golf is played at a relaxed pace, sometimes with delays as play bogs down, there is time to get acquainted.

The boys often start with routine conversation. How long have you played is a common question. Congratulations on a good shot or when someone holes a difficult putt are heard repeatedly.

Rarely, however, do they comment on the round itself.

“We talk about other sports we play,” Knipfel said. Otherwise the course is hushed.

On the first day Knipfel teed off with Jack Anderson from Lutheran South, a St. Louis school, and Andrew Bryant from Osage. Day two put him with Luke Burkey from Chesterfield’s Westminster Christian Academy and Davis Junbluth of Bishop LeBlond in St. Joseph.

They were fairly matched. Knipfel ended the championship in a tie for 18th shooting a 166 over two rounds. Junbluth and Anderson also finished in 18th with identical rounds.

Except for the weather, Knipfel said the experience was everything he expected.

“It meant a lot,” he added.

His sister advanced to state all four years. Knipfel made it in his first year. Does that mean there’s some internal desire to match her feat?

“Kind of,” he said.


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