The Clermont Northeastern golf team is having a pretty successful go of it in 2012-13. The Rockets, under first-year head coach, Brandon Hoeppner, are making steady improvements as the season changes from summer into fall.
“(The year) has gone pretty well so far,” Hoeppner said. “It’s my first year coaching, so I’m learning things at the same time as they are learning.”
With an emphasis on learning the game and improving the games of each of the individuals on the team, Hoeppner employed a coaching strategy of practicing on the driving range and around the putting green to start the season.
“We started off the year having practices instead of going out and actually playing,” Hoeppner said. “I think that was helpful.”
The beginning of the year started off a little rocky for CNE, but the Rockets have found their stride more recently.
Beginning in mid-August, CNE split the field in a tri-match against Batavia and Bethel, falling to the Bulldogs, but beating the Tigers on a tiebreaker. Following that first match, the Rockets had a string of losses to some Southern Buckeye opponents, but Hoeppner has not been discouraged by the way his team has played.
Quite the contrary, in fact, with his optimism being contagious as the Rockets won three matches in three days during the last week of August against Georgetown, Goshen and Batavia.
The Rockets team score, made up of the top four of the six golfers playing, has consistently hovered around the 190 mark, give or take a few strokes on any given day.
Playing in the No. 1 position for the Rockets is senior Ben Frazier. Mirroring the success of the team, Frazier started off the season slowly, but as he gets more rounds under his belt, his scores have improved.
Currently, Frazier is leading the team with a 43.8 average.
“Ben is a senior and was the medalist three times (during the week of Aug. 27),” Hoeppner said. “He’s led the team pretty well. We won all three of the matches he medaled in.
“He started a little slow with his average around 46, but since then he’s played well and his average is down around a 43 now.”
The rest of the Rockets roster includes players of all ages and skill levels. Along with Frazier, other seniors Kenny Green and Matt Binegar tee it up for CNE. Juniors Kiefer Cunningham and Alex Thompson also get solid playing time as well as freshman Jared Ansteatt and Chris Lindsley.
The Rockets lone sophomore is Shellby Hoeppner, the coach’s daughter, who holds her own while playing with the boys. Shellby currently holds a 55.5 average, which is fourth on the team behind Frazier, Cunningham and Green.
The Rockets began their first of four Southern Buckeye matches last week shooting an even 200 to fall to their competitors in the National Division.
However, Clermont has more chances to redeem themselves as they played Tuesday, Sept. 11 and will again on Thursday, Sept. 13. The final SBC match is on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
The total of those four matches will determine the standings of the teams in the league. Although the Rockets were unable to add another couple wins to their record, they are only 14 strokes behind the first place team, Blanchester.
The other teams in their division, Georgetown, Williamsburg and Batavia are all within nine strokes or fewer.
“We only have two matches outside of the SBC tournaments,” Hoeppner said. “Both of them are against American Division teams, which means bigger schools.
“Going forward, I would like to see us shoot personal best scores and just play well. We don’t need to have the attitude that we’re going to go out and beat everybody, we just need to keep learning and playing well.”
The Rockets should have no problem doing that as Hoeppner is committed to making everyone a better player. When the Rockets aren’t playing in matches, Hoeppner has scheduled practices so that the team is playing five days a week.
To keep up with the CNE golf team, visit their website at cnegolfteam.org.