Payton Boekhout might occasionally glance behind himself on the golf course, only to realize he won’t find what he’s looking for.
The recent weeks have been a challenge for the Platte County senior after the death of his grandfather. Pete Boekhout meant a lot to his grandson’s game, but nothing became more important for Payton Boekhout than to have “Pepaw” tagging along during his rounds.
On Saturday, April 8, Payton Boekhout lost his biggest fan but still finds sanctuary on the golf course, playing through the pain.
“I always look back there, and it’s hard not seeing him back there,” Payton Boekhout said Monday, April 17 after playing 18 holes in the inaugural Pirate Invitational at Shiloh Springs Golf Course. “I kind of associate this golf course with my grandpa. It’s kind of hard, but I know he’s up there watching me.”
Monday’s round marked the first competitive 18 holes at home for Payton Boekhout since his grandfather died at the age of 72.
A longtime starter at Shiloh Springs, Pete Boekhout became a big part of Platte County’s program for the better part of the past decade. He watched two grandsons play for the Pirates and helped promote Payton Boekhout’s love for the game at an early age.
During Payton Boekhout’s first three years, Pepaw rarely missed a match and could often be found at practices talking with all of the players. Pete Boekhout battled cancer for the past six months, and this year’s players wear a symbol on the right sleeve of the official team polo shirts — a white circle with Pete Boekhout’s initials on top of a white tee with two golf clubs criss-crossed on the back.
“He became a big fixture on our team,” longtime Platte County coach Trevor Short said of Pete Boekhout. “Pete was a big deal for us, so we wanted to pay tribute to him.”
Payton Boekhout silently wore the custom polo during Monday’s round, still playing in his grandfather’s memory. He posted his best 18-hole score of the season with an 8-over 79 on his home course to tie for medalist honors with freshman teammate Logan Hessemyer.
In all, Payton Boekhout made 11 pars, including four straight in the middle of his front nine before closing with his worst stretch of the round. He was 5-over after going double bogey, bogey, bogey on Nos. 7, 8 and 9 — the first two par 3s — but started his backside with three straight pars.
Payton Boekhout hasn’t missed a match or tournament in the wake of his grandfather’s death, impressing his teammates in the process with his resolve.
“We’re just trying to keep his mind off of it and keep him in a good mood, being there for him as teammates and as a brotherhood,” Platte County sophomore Bradley Poos said. “I think his faith and his outlook on the whole situation has helped him stay strong, and he’s playing really well.”
Boekhout heads up a deep roster with competitive players from the top of varsity to the bottom of junior varsity.
In the four-team Pirate Invitational, seven players for the hosts earned medals. The Pirates won with a 328 — their best team score of the season — with Boekhout (tied for first), Hessemyer (tied for first), Jack Laderoute (84, tied for third) and Poos (86, fifth) in the top 10.
With a 351, Platte County’s junior varsity placed second over Belton, William Chrisman and Oak Park. Austin Acord (84, tied for third), Matt Blaha (87, seventh) and Blake Zimmerman (89, ninth) earned medals for the Pirates’ JV.
“That can only make your team better when you’re fighting for spots,” Short said. “Our hashtag or motto is ‘Every shot matters,” because with us this year, every shot does matter. Payton’s been very much our team leader, taking some younger players under his wing and not helping them with their swing but with how they play the game.”
Hessemyer, a left-handed freshman, continued to play as a solid No. 2 behind Boekhout.
Starting on 18, Hessemyer overcame a bogey-bogey start with a birdie and three straight pars. He ended up with seven bogeys and one double bogey but posted five pars in his final eight holes to end up in the tie atop the leaderboard.
A junior, Laderoute overcame some recent struggles with the putter and posted three pars on the front nine and four on the back to place third.
Platte County’s lineup should remain in flux for the rest of the season. Laderoute had fallen to the No. 5 spot but looks primed to ascend back up the ranks, while the Pirates eye big goals for the upcoming Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships and then the postseason.
Every shot will continue to matter for Platte County and maybe even more so for Payton Boekhout, who will continue to play for more than just himself and his team.
“I’m definitely playing a lot more focused, thinking about him,” Boekhout said. “My golf ball has his initials and the year he was born so it reminds me of him every time I hit a shot.”
Park Hill South posted a team 338 and finished sixth Friday, April 14 at Shoal Creek Golf Course in Liberty, Mo. The Panthers were just six shots out of a tie for second and 13 back of winner Liberty.
Zach Bischler posted another medal round, shooting a 9-over 80 to lead Park Hill South. Chris Walker (84) and Jay Threadgill (85) also finished in the top 25, including ties.
Park Hill came in just 10 shots back of its district rival, finishing in a tie with Pembroke Hill for eighth.
Ryan Graves (81) tied for 10th and also grabbed a medal to lead the Trojans, who didn’t have another golfer in the top 30. Randen Plattner, Davin Dorrel and Grant Schumacher all shot 80 to round out their score.
Platte County 171, Winnetonka 239
Hessemyer shot even-par 37 on Wednesday, April 12 at Shiloh Springs Golf Course to earn medalist honors in a dominant victory for the host Pirates. Boekhout followed with a 4-over 41 effort, while Laderoute (46) and Tanner Burkin and Poos (matching 47s) rounded out the team score.
Park Hill South quad
The host came up just two strokes shy of winning a four-team matchup Wednesday, April 12 at The Deuce in Parkville, Mo.
Park Hill South’s Threadgill shot a 3-over 38 to finish in a three-way tie for medalist honors, but Staley’s duo of Easton Sabina and Dawson Roberts led the Falcons to a team 165. Park Hill South was second with a 167, 12 in front of Smithville.
Matthew Dieleman shot a 42 out of the No. 5 spot for Park Hill South with Zach Bischler (43) and Chris Walker (44) rounding out the team score.