SMITHFIELD — The wide-open fairways of Birch Creek Golf Course made way for some low scores to open the Cache Valley Amateur on Friday.
Ryan Seamons shot a 66 to lead eight players in the Champ Flight who made it under par on the par-72 course. Nate Nyman (68) and Denny Job (69) were the other two golfers who broke 70, with Cameron Tucker (70), Tanner Alder (70), Dylan Hardy (71), Tyler Labrum (71) and Lee Shepard (71) rounding out the under-par crew.
Both the A Flight and B Flight have a three-way tie for first. Les Gardner, Triston Hartfiel and Daniel Johnson each shot an even par in the A Flight. Nic Bailey, Kenny Hilton and Blake Stanford each fired a two-over 74 in the B Flight.
Seamons, a soon-to-be senior at Sky View, played a bogey-free round, maximizing the six birdies he posted on his scorecard (he did have a close call on 14 where a superb up-and-down let him save par). Four of those birdies came on the front nine, including the first hole.
“Having no bogeys is a really good confidence booster,” Seamons said.
Nyman, also a Cache Valley and Sky View product, finished with one of his better rounds of the year, even after a subpar start.
“I started off kind of shaky for the first couple of holes, but kind of settled down,” Nyman said. “The greens were really smooth and not very fast like I thought they’d be, and I think that’s what got me the first five or six holes. But then I settled down, got in my groove.”
That groove for Nyman began with sinking a 40-foot birdie putt on the par five fifth hole to recover from a less-than-stellar drive. Nyman birdied No. 6 and nearly had one on seven as well. Nyman then took the a birdie on both nine and 10.
The round went well in the long run but, unlike Seamons, Nyman had multiple bogeys, including ones on eight and 17 that kept his score back from the leader.
Birch Creek’s openness made for a few lower scores, but Logan River, the venue of Saturday’s second and deciding round of the tournament, is nearly the complete opposite. Narrow fairways dominate the course with more unfriendly rough and hazards lining and even protruding into the safety of the fairway. There are also multiple stretches in the course that discourage using a driver off the tee lest the golfer risk a disastrous shot into a hazard.
“It’s really tight down there, so you’ve got to play smart, keep the driver in the bag,” Nyman said.
“You definitely have to play more smart at Logan River,” Seamons said.
Nyman said many participants haven’t played Logan River, instead frequenting Birch Creek, and suggested the more testy tee box shots and holes might adversely affect players.
“I think it just gets in people’s heads, really. They’re not used to having to hit irons (off the tee box),” Nyman said. “I just think the scores will be a little higher tomorrow.”
Seamons, however, said “personally, I like Logan River,” partly because despite (or perhaps because of) the trying fairways, the overall yardage is shorter, meaning good shots are well-rewarded with an easier approach distance.