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Thompson Falls golfers battled wind, tough course at Anaconda

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

How windy was it in Anaconda this past week?

It was so windy, that when Thompson Falls senior Cael Thilmony watched helplessly as an approach shot to the putting green, which rolled up to the cup, was blown off the green and into the fringe.

Horses in a nearby pasture were said to be standing in a circle feeding each other hot chicken noodle soup to stave off the icy wind.

The first of those incidents, anyway, is a true story as high school golfers from throughout the area took to the Old Works golf course in Anaconda for the Western Divisional Class B tournament.

With a spot in this week’s state championships in Shelby (B-C) on the line, the wind was an added element to battle for those wishing to advance.

At the end of the round this past Tuesday, Three Forks’ girls won the team title and Jefferson High’s boys (Boulder) captured the men’s team crown.

Thompson Falls’ girls finished sixth in the team chase, while the T Falls boys placed ninth, one spot ahead of tenth place Superior.

In the girls competition, Three Forks’ Ari Judd won the individual title with an 18-hole total score of 90, four strokes better than Anaconda’s Logan Mckay (94). Tops for Thompson Falls’ girls was freshman Aubrey Baxter, a state qualifier from last year, who shot a 102 on the day, good for seventh place overall.

Teammate Solveig Nygaard placed eleventh for the Lady Hawks with a 109, while Sophie Chou shot a 116, good for a three-way tie for seventh. As a team, Thompson Falls had a total of +188 on the challenging course, which was designed and built on a Superfund clean-up site created by now defunct ore smelting in the Anaconda area.

Three Forks' winning team total was +136.

In the boys’ competition, Jefferson’s Ben Werner shot a 77, +5 score to claim top individual honors and secure a spot in this week’s state championships (May 14-15) in Shelby.

Zach Manning of Loyola was second in the individual standings with a 79.

The top local (Sanders and Mineral Counties) golfer on the day was Superior’s Owen Doyle, who carded a 98, good for 33rd place among the 60 boys golfers who took part in the tournament.

Doyle was one stroke better than Thompson Falls’ Theo Nygaard (99) and two shots ahead of Thilmony’s score of 100, which earned him a tie for 35th. Brydon Drey also fired a 100 for Superior, while Bobcats teammate Phin Cataldo placed in a two-way tie for 37th with a 103.

Plains boys, which did not have enough golfers to qualify for the team competition, got a 106 from Brandt Snead, good for 40th place, while senior Drew Carey had a 107 (tied for 42nd).

Other local boys and their scores were: T Falls: Braxton Dorscher (111); Blake Shusterman (124); and Chase Helvey (139). From Plains: Wyatt Butcher (133); and from Superior, Dalton Boyce (135) and Henry Hanson (144).

Local girl golfers who competed were from Plains: Eleanor Bebb (161); Macy Malmend (168) and Madi Peele (188).

Thompson Falls head golf coach Doree Thilmony said the weather was a major factor in the tournament, as unseasonably cold conditions altered play throughout the day.

“The weather added some adversity to the round, with a 38-degree start, 50 mph winds and some snow at times,” Thilmony said. “At one point during the tournament, winds took out the power to Anaconda and the sprinkler system turned on during the round, causing golfers to pull their golf balls out of puddles on the greens”.

The incident involving Cael on the putting green was emblematic of the day’s harsh weather.

“The putts were extremely high (on the greens),” coach Thilmony said. “He (Cael) spoke of one of his chip shots cuddling up to the cup and then as he approached, the wind blew it off the green, back into the fringe. Many golfers found themselves in these types of situations”.

Golfers who qualified for the State tourney in Shelby will be hoping for better weather conditions this Tuesday and Wednesday (May 14-15) as they compete for state team and individual titles.


    With the omnipresent Anaconda copper smelter smokestack standing in the background, T Falls freshman golfer Aubrey Baxter tees off during last week's Western Division golf tourney under cold and windy conditions. (Photo by Doree Thilmony)