Left to right: Jace Henry, Cason Bekemier, and Brayden Tharp return with lots of varsity golf experience for the Tigers.

Season Preview: Competitive Roster Keys Upcoming Golf Season

The Republic golf team teed off for its 2024 season Monday, and coach Kris Flood is optimistic about the squad’s potential. Republic finished seventh out of 22 teams at the Bolivar Invitational, with Cason Bekemeier leading the way. He took seventh overall.

Bekemeier was last year’s top golfer for the Tigers and the only state qualifier. He’s joined by two other varsity returners — Jace Henry and Brayden Tharp. “Those three were a pretty good core group, and pretty consistent,” Flood said.

The team has 16 players total, with a competitive top six or seven. New additions Porter Bollinger and Aslan Ebisch are in the mix, along with returnees Luke Heavin, David Hayes and Maddux Blansit. Bollinger and Ebisch played in the varsity lineup at Bolivar.

Flood said it’s the deepest team he’s had for a few seasons. By this point in the year, when tournaments have begun, Flood has usually known his set lineup. That’s not necessarily the case this year.

“They are competitive,” he said of his golfers. “They’ve all played at the same level and the same score, and at the first tournament, it came down to that last day as far as figuring out the averages (to determine who would compete).”

Flood said he expects to see more playoffs between golfers on the team to determine who fills those top five roles at the varsity level. That gets more difficult when the season begins, because tournaments are so frequent and the season only lasts about a month.

After qualifying for state last year, Bekemeier’s game is noticeably improved as he begins his senior season.

“It seems like he’s increased his distance,” Flood said. “He looks stronger, he’s starting to fill out a little bit, and he puts a lot of work into his game. It’s not just distance. He’s a really consistent putter. He’s always trying to fine-tune some stuff.”

Jace Henry also has good driving distance and has improved since last year. “Jace is steady. He’s a strong kid, long off the tee. I feel like his short game’s gotten better,” said Flood.

Brayden Tharp is also a steady player for the Tigers, and back for another year. “He’s not a risk taker. He’s going to keep it in bounds. He’s going to try to score. He’ll grind a par out here and there, then occasionally throw (a birdie) in,” Flood said.

Flood believes his top seven or eight golfers, including Heavin, Hayes, and Blansit, may see some varsity time this season. And the depth of the team, he hopes, will allow other golfers to join Bekemeier as state qualifiers at the end of the season.


Choose your teams. Check your inbox. Sign up now for our brand-new customized newsletter.