ROCKINGHAM — When Richmond Pines Country Club shuttered its doors in 2011, the Richmond Senior boys golf team lost the only practice facility in the county.
Now that Richmond Pines re-opened last summer, Richmond coach Jason Warren believes it will help his squad as it prepares for the upcoming season. Warren said with a driving range, practice putting green and chipping green at Richmond Pines, it has allowed him to schedule structured practices.
“It’s nice to have a home course,” Warren said. “It’s very nice to have full facilities. The people at Richmond Pines have been great.”
Richmond was slated to open its season Monday with a scrimmage against the other Southeastern Conference members at Pinehurst No. 6. But the latest storm system forced officials to canceled the event and now the Raiders will head to Raeford for their regular season opener at Bayonet at Puppy Creek.
“I’m expecting good things this year,” Warren said. “We have been out here for three weeks and we have been hitting it good. I have also seen a lot of improvement in their short game. I believe we can give anyone a run for their money in the conference. I expect us to be in the top three in the conference and advance to regionals.”
This season’s team consists of two seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Even though it doesn’t appear on paper the Raiders have a lot of experience on paper, Warren said that isn’t true. The majority of his juniors have been competing since their freshmen year. In addition, one of his top sophomores — Matt Howard — was a stroke away from advancing to the state tournament last year.
Warren added all of this experience will benefit the younger players as Richmond competes with the likes of Pinecrest and Purnell Swett in the SEC.
“With this being my first year as coach, it is nice having players like Drew Norton and Matt Howard around,” Warren said. “They have been around and can step to help other players. They can see things I don’t see and help them on the putting green or with their swing.”
Richmond’s lone home match of the season is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 28.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.