The high school boys golf season kicked off with an unusual but intriguing format Thursday at Fox Run in Elk Grove.
The Grenadiers hosted what they called their 2017 "Early Bird Scramble," and instead of just having varsity competitors, each squad consisted of six teams within a team, comprised of one varsity and one junior varsity player.
The teammates played a best-ball format, where each hits a tee shot, then decide who hit the best shot and go from there -- each hitting the next shot from that point, on and on until one of the balls is holed out.
"I developed this (tourney) to promote team togetherness," said Brian Bucciarelli, one of the Elk Grove coaches. "The kids seem to enjoy it and it kind of feels right."
No one enjoyed it more Thursday than the pairing of Prospect junior Charlie Busch and sophomore Dylan Norton, who won individual medalist honors by shooting 65 on a sun-drenched day.
The funny thing is, Busch said their performance could have been even better.
"We missed some putts, we had some lip outs we could have made," Busch said. "But we made a lot of good putts, too, and when you shoot 65, you know you played well.
"I've played in this tournament the last couple of years and I really enjoy it. We just had tryouts Monday through Wednesday, and along the way we were able to pick our partners and I picked Dylan. He's one of the best players on junior varsity."
Busch and Norton had 6 birdies to lead Prospect (279) to a third-place finish while Hersey (282) was fourth. Lake Forest (271) won team honors while York (274) was second.
Junior Riley Rathman and sophomore Jason Gamez led the host Grens with a 78.
"It was pretty fun," Gamez said. "You get to play your best shots so good ball placement is a key."
Prospect sophomore Jack Schwall said that playing alongside varsity partner John Cantieri was a learning experience.
"The main thing I learned today was to take my time," said Schwall, who along with Cantieri finished with a 72 on the 6,257-yard Fox Run course.
"I have a tendency to rush my shots," Schwall added. "And I noticed that John takes his time and is very precise, especially when putting. He's a good role model."
One of the rules of the tourney was that the teams had to play at least three of the junior varsity drives per nine holes, but Schwall said that didn't add any extra pressure.
"I got off the tee well, especially at the start," said the sophomore, whose best drive covered 250 yards.
Cantieri not only enjoyed the format but also the date of the meet, coming six days before the local players begin classes.
"It's nice not to have school the next day," the junior said. "You can relax a little and get after it."
Jack Knott and Sam Ergastolo teamed up to fire a 68 for Prospect while Joey Carlson and Tyler Hass shot 69 for Hersey.
Chris Cho and John Freiburger led Rolling Meadows with 73s, while junior Kyle Richards and sophomore Jack Gazda had the best score for Buffalo Grove (77).
"This a good start to the year," Richards said, "And it's great to be out here and have someone like Jack backing you up. You basically come out and play your own game though, and no matter what the format is, it's the same game."
"It is nice to have someone backing you up," Gazda added, "Especially when you mis-hit or shank a shot."