I think it is safe to say that Chris Mercer enjoys his job as golf coach for the Bulldogs in Luray, Virginia. Mercer is finishing up his 12TH season at the helm of the program at LHS and with the Ryder Cup set to start in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday, Mercer and Page County coach Ron Campbell decided to have some fun with their latest cross-county meet.
Both the Panthers of Page County and the Bulldogs call Luray Caverns Country Club home. The two teams were at it head to head for the final time Tuesday afternoon but this time there was a different format in place for the six golfers competing for their schools.
"Our district tournament will be over at Shenvalee on Monday and this was going to be our last home match of the season," Mercer said. "I talked with Ron about it and with the Ryder Cup set to start on Friday we thought the format would be really fun for the kids."
The golfers went out in foursomes as usual but that is where the normal routine ended. Instead of playing your own ball for 9 holes of competition, the golfers rotated thru three sets of three holes loops playing the different formats that Phil Mickelson and the remainder of the United States squad will use this week. Holes 1-3 were played as a Match Play Best Ball while holes 4-6 where played as Match Play Captains Choice and if the matches were still going for holes 7-9 the students would play the alternate shot format.
Following the golfers around the course made me wish I had played golf in high school for someone as into the game as Coach Mercer. Back during my playing days I doubt my "golf" coach knew what the Ryder Cup was, let alone the format of the competition. There was one other change in the format as the third and final group had three players from each side playing. Instead of a 6 vs. 6, each team had 7 golfers playing so that all of the seniors on both squads could play in their final home match.
I was able to visit with Mercer enough during our walk around the course to be able to tell you a few other things about him other than his love for the game and his kids that play it. Chris teaches P.E at Luray Elementary and helps Coach Smith out with the JV Baseball Team. Coach Smith as in Randy Smith who assists skipper Mike Bocock with the VBL's Luray Wranglers.
Ryan Carroll (Luray Wranglers) played for Mercer last season and has returned to be a volunteer assistant coach this season. I asked Chris about his years of coaching young Mr. Carroll.
" Ryan was great to have on the team and wonderful to coach," Mercer added with a smile. "It just would of been easier if he had listened to me about hitting a driver of number nine a couple of years earlier."
The Shenandoah District will be changing up quite a bit at the start of next season when Central High School of Woodstock moves from Class AA back to Class A and rejoins the group that includes Riverheads, Stonewall Jackson, Page County, Luray, Wilson Memorial and Buffalo Gap. Central moving in happens as Wilson Memorial will be moving out and the new format will include three counties having two schools each in them.
Both Page County and Luray are scheduled to compete in one more road match before turning their sites on the District event next Monday over at Shenvalee Resort in New Market.
Hope you enjoy the Pics and the roster/results... Best of Luck to both schools on Monday!
Results from the Match :
Luray Bulldogs 2, Page County Panthers 1
Bryan Vandanna and Bob Baker (PC) won 3 &2 over Brian Giles and Alan Taylor (L)
Tommy Weaver and Chase Schakelford (L) won 4 & 2 over Elliott Good and Darrin Alger (PC)
Nolan Nichols, Luke Black and Peyton Bryan (L) defeated Sean Pangle, Cody Painter and Shaina Knight (PC)
Pictures to follow...