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For the last 24 months, the Oldham Cup has resided at Oldham County High School. Early next week, the North and South Oldham boys’ golf teams will look to make sure it has a new home for the next 12 months as they take to three local golf courses across the county in a rivalry showdown with the defending champion Colonels.
Starting on Sept. 11, the event spans three days and pits the Oldham County teams against each other in a Ryder Cup-style tournament, rotating between best ball, alternate shot and match play formats.
Points are scored by hole as players from different schools are divided into pairs. Winning a hole awards one point to the players’ team, while a push earns half a point.
That format encourages a tight race as top players can be neutralized by an unfavorable matchup. In fact, in years past, Oldham County coach Alan Davis said frontrunners really don’t emerge until day three.
“The key is getting off to a good start,” Davis said. “If you can play well the first two days, you’re set up for the last one. In the Oldham Cup, strange things happen though. You get kids step up and good players who really don’t play as well.”
By breaking up the days into different play styles, it also makes teams adjust their strategy is leveling the field even more. Though a team may be the strongest in match play — like North Oldham, this year’s presumed favorite — a couple of lucky breaks on best ball or alternating shot can keep things close.
“I really think engaging in best ball and alternate shot kind of helps level the playing fields for the teams,” North Oldham coach Larry Dunn said. “If we have an advantage, it’s probably on the head-to-head play because we have just a little bit of a deeper bench. Now, again the equalizer there is that those same players that are able to post a good stroke score, may not be as experienced in the match play format.”
Each team will have a couple of key players in mind as they enter the fold. For Oldham County, the two-time defending champion, Morgan Franklin is the only returning player with any Oldham Cup experience. South will look to Patrick Aufrey, Drew Froehlich and Nick Fowler to lead.
North Oldham, which has had a hot start this season and enters the Cup undefeated in match play, will turn to Michael Vissing and Cash Cameron to lead them.
Another interesting aspect is the expansion of teams for the event.
During most tournaments, only four players count toward the team total but for the Oldham Cup, an additional four players will be called upon. In addition to giving some junior varsity valuable experience playing in a tense environment, it also allows them the privilege of playing in a unique Oldham County staple.
“This is really good for our JV to be able to bring them along so that they can get some experience for future years,” South coach Carol Cooksey said. “We have some junior varsity players that are anxious for the chance to get some more experience. We’re looking for the JV to step up and really help us along.”
The junior varsity players aren’t the only ones ready to play in the event though. With more than 12 editions of the tournament having already been played, it’s safe to say the Oldham Cup is the most anticipated three days in Oldham County for boys’ golf. With several tough teams standing between the three local schools and the state tournament, it’s also as close as most of them will get to a state championship.
“You do not need to give any motivational speeches to these boys before the Oldham Cup,” Dunn said. “They are all fully engaged and fully satisfied. This is the one time of the year that I don’t have to worry about pumping the team up to do well because they’re all that way before they even hit the course.”
Unlike most of the rivalries in the county, the cup is more a fun way to play against the local teams thaan a knockdown, drag-out fight with postseason implications. In fact, after competing against each other, the three schools will come together the next week to play Eastern, Male and Trinity High Schools in an Oldham/Jefferson County challenge.
“A week after we’re rivals in the Oldham Cup, we’re teammates,” Davis said with a laugh. “I think it’s great and the boys are really looking forward to that because they know each other. Here, we have a chance to see each other in a different light and urge each other on.
The Oldham Cup will kick off at 4:20 p.m. Sept. 11 at Oldham County Country Club, before traveling to Harmony Landing at 4:20 p.m. Sept. 12 and closing at Nevel Meade at 4 p.m. Sept. 13.
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