BELLEVILLE — After helping to build the Belleville East girls golf program into one of the elite teams in Southern Illinois, Terry Neutzling took over the Lancers' boys program during the 2011 season.
While the transition went well, there may have been a few bumps along way.
"It was interesting. After being with the girls for so long, I think it took time for me to get used to them and for them to adjust to me,'' Neutzling said. "With the guys, they have more of a 'grip it and rip it' mentality. But what it comes down to in either boys or girls golf, is course management. And not making any real big numbers.
"Everybody is going to hit bad shots. That's golf. The key is not making big numbers.''
The Lancers are off to a solid start. East placed in the upper half of the Alton Tee-Off Classic last week at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course. The effort was led by senior Max Bennett who claimed medalist honors with an even-par 72.
"It was just a very solid round of golf. He had four birdies, four bogies and hit 16 greens,'' Neutzling said. "Max was averaging in the upper 70s during tryouts, but had a 35 on the back nine at Clinton Hill on the last day. I think that was the start and then he came out and just played very well on a very tough golf course at (Spencer T.) Olin. Hopefully, its a start to a great senior year."
Seniors Danny Snyder, the Lancers' No. 1 player last season and Sam Bassett, are also in the top four along with junior Michael Fuehne.
"Danny (Snyder) isn't shooting the numbers he's capable of, but I'm sure he'll turn that around,'' Neutzling said. "Sam shot a very solid 82 at Spencer T. Olin and Michael (Fuehne) is a very strong young man who can, at times, make this game look easy.''
Sophomore Matt Holl, junior Jon Kreber and senior Jack Hildebrand round out the Lancers top seven players.
"I don't think a lot of people are expecting a lot from us, but we're hoping by the end of the year that we'll be able to surprise,'' Neutzling said. "The thing I like about this group is that they're good kids who are very competitive and are working hard on their games everyday.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 239-2661.