Ryan Stankewicz set his share of goals to accomplish this season as South Carroll’s No. 1 golfer.
The junior had hopes of winning all of the championship events throughout the fall, which culminates at University of Maryland each year for the state tournament. He wanted to be more of a leader and show his younger teammates how to better play the game.
Stankewicz’s main goal, however, may have been to hold the county’s lowest nine-hole scoring average by season’s end. It’s an objective that requires steady play and low scores, with not many chances to have a bad day.
Stankewicz had very few of them.
The Times Player of the Year wanted to begin the season with a flourish by playing well in August, before school began and golfers’ scores usually rose with less time to hone their skills on the course.
South Carroll’s season started Aug. 25 at Links at Challedon, the Cavaliers’ home course, with a county tri-match against Century and Liberty. The Lions won the match, but Stankewicz put up an impressive 33 for his nine-hole round.
That’s 3 under par. And it got Stankewicz rolling.
“I started off the season about as well as I could,” Stankewicz said. “Through my first four matches I was probably 4 or 5 under. I started off really hot.”
He fired a 35 against Winters Mill and Smithsburg in a tri-match five days later. More sub-40 rounds piled up. Suddenly, Stankewicz had the scoring average lead in his sights.
Even with school beginning, and a course load that included three Advanced Placement classes, Stankewicz said he handled the time management quite well. He only remembers two or three rounds of 40 or more to start the year.
Along the way, Stankewicz performed well at those bigger tournaments — he shot a 79 at the Class 2A-1A District I tourney in Hagerstown, which qualified him for states; he carded a 1-over 73 to win medalist honors at the county tournament at Westminster National; and he finished ninth at the 2A-1A state tournament after shooting 157 over two days.
Oh, and that nine-hole average? Stankewicz ended the fall at 37.6, more than one stroke ahead of the rest of the county.
“Very happy with my scoring average this year,” he said. “It was an awesome season, especially the people I had to beat out to be a player of the year. It’s probably one of the most competitive seasons Carroll County golf has ever had.”
South Carroll coach Matt Joseph didn’t let Stankewicz’s sizzling start to the season go unnoticed. He knew that 33 was a program record for nine holes, and he knew the Cavaliers’ younger players wer eager to learn from one of the area’s top players.
“It was fun,” Joseph said. “You kind of got used to it, which I guess is bad, really. Ryan, he just came out the gate and he played lights out.”
Joseph said more than once Stankewicz came in from the course to sign his scorecard and attest to shooting even-par 36, only to tell him he lined up eight birdie putts during the round.
That’s a player in the zone. In fact, Stankewicz found himself in that state a lot this fall.
At the county tournament, he played with Century’s Liam Wolf, Westminster’s Aaron Sorkin, and Winters Mill’s Brian Inglis. The foursome started their round on the first hole, and by the 18th Stankewicz held a one-shot lead over Inglis, last year’s individual county champ.
Stankewicz let the closeness slip his mind while converting his birdie putt, and when Inglis made his the junior realized what he had accomplished.
“It was the best I’ve putted all year,” Stankewicz said after his round.
The top-10 finish at the state tournament was solid, but Stankewicz came away a bit disappointed he didn’t post lower scores (80-77 over two days). He took about a month off before picking up a club again — Stankewicz played a round of 18 at Challedon last Sunday and said he shot 73.
Working at the course has its perks, and Stankewicz said he gets plenty of time to chip, putt, and drive when he’s not at school or doing other things. The journey to repeat as scoring title champion next year is already being plotted.