One stroke. A missed putt here. An errant drive there.
That was all it took to separate the Ottumwa High School boys golf team from another victory.
Joe Hammer shot a 74 to finish a stroke out of the individual title, and the Bulldogs were a stroke from winning the team championship during a weather-delayed Ottumwa Invitational Tuesday at Fox Run Golf Course.
The Bulldogs' 313 was a shot behind Muscatine, which needed four scores in the 70s to prevail.
"A 313 is decent for us, but I know we can all do better," said Hammer, who had three bogeys, a birdie and 14 pars on a course that played faster after morning rain saturated the greens and fairways. "I just couldn't get a putt to fall outside of five feet. During all those pars, I'm like, 'Is the hole where the putt falls?'
"Then you hit into a lot of greens and the ball just stuck," he said. "You just had to play the course differently on the second nine, and I think that affected my game a little bit."
Des Moines Lincoln's Ben Badger shot 1-over 73 to earn medalist honors in the same group of Hammer. Ottumwa's Steven Langland was third, also with a 74.
"I've played with Ben a lot. I was pretty impressed with his play all day," Hammer said. "These weren't ideal conditions, but he was hitting it well."
Badger hit the final nine greens in regulation as part of a two-birdie, one-bogey day.
"He didn't make a birdie until his last hole," Ottumwa coach Kyle Creamer said. "That was the best I've seen him play.
"I thought our short game saved a lot of rounds today," Creamer said. "Our top three were getting up and down a lot because they weren't driving the ball well."
Cale Leonard shot 78 for the Bulldogs, while Noah Bjerke's 87 rounded out the Bulldogs' team score. Trent Grooms (88) and Tyler Brown (97) completed the varsity.
Though the Bulldogs were consistent, Muscatine was a bit more, and it was enough to deliver the team title. The Muskies' top four scorers all were within two strokes of each other, ranging from 77 to 79.
"They played well. When you shoot four in the 70s, that will usually earn you a team title," Creamer said. "That's high school golf at its finest. I told our guys they had to block out a bad shot. You don't want to lose by one because you didn't do that."
The Bulldogs hadn't played a competitive round since Aug. 21. Those 20 days were, at times, harrowing for a team wanting to return to the course.
"We were all really ready to play," Hammer said. "And then we have a (90-minute) delay, and then you're sitting inside wondering if you're going to play. We were all antsy."
"At times, the biggest challenge was keeping the kids focused and doing certain drills," Creamer said. "They just wanted to go out and play so badly, but it's a really good thing that these guys want to compete."
The Bulldogs have three meets each of the next three weeks, beginning with a trip to the Ames tournament Tuesday at Veenker Memorial Golf Course.
at Fox Run Golf Course
1. Muscatine, 312; 2. Ottumwa, 313; 3. Indianola, 322; 4. Des Moines Lincoln, 336. Des Moines North and Des Moines East did not have enough golfers for a team score.
Muscatine — James Solt, 37-41—78; Doug Custin, 40-39—79; Grant Valiant, 37-40—77; John Becker, 38-40—78; Mike Henderson, 43-46—89; Alec Chartier, 44-47—91.
Ottumwa — Cale Leonard, 38-40—78; Joe Hammer, 36-38—74; Steven Langland, 36-38—74; Noah Bjerke, 43-44—87; Trent Grooms, 43-45—88; Tyler Brown, 45-52—97.
Indianola — Tom Krapfl, 38-45-83; Max Trembly, 39-41—80; Jackson Overton, 38-39—77; Preston Bily, 42-40—82; Gabe Zwanziger, 38-45—83; Casey Daughenbaugh, 41-43—84.
Des Moines Lincoln — Ben Badger, 37-36—73; Parker Judge, 46-40—86; Bradley Kofoed, 39-47—86; Jordan Wells, 48-53—91; Sam Levang, 54-64—118; Joey Johnson, 48-54—102.
Ottumwa JV — Jackson Saunders 47-49—96; Thomas Cutsforth, 51-52—103; Thomas Mitchell, 54-48—102; Jackson Grooms, 48-50—98; Tyse Barker, 45-47—92.
Des Moines North — Alex Brownfield, 58-60—118; Trevor Doerring, 43-52—95; Miles Garton, 57-60—117/
Des Moines East — R.J. Channon, 40-41—81; Anthony Harlan, 60-62—122; Andy Decker, DNF; Josue Aleman, DNF