. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)

(Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

Over the course of the 2016 season, the Bulldog and Lady Bulldog golf teams have proven themselves among the best in the state time and time again.

Their District 4-AAAAA championships May 2 at the Lovington Country Club only strengthened that designation. Now, they have a chance to prove it further.

The Artesia High School golfers will take the course Monday at Pinon Hills in Farmington with a single goal in mind: the blue trophy. They have the skill and talent to take them there. All that remains is to put it into play.

“Everything we’ve been talking about all year – now it’s time to put it together,” Lady ‘Dog coach Dusty Bean said Saturday. “We have to hit the fairways, we have to hit the greens, and we have to try to get off of them in as few putts as we can.”

The Lady Bulldogs have been a house on fire this season, racking up win after tournament win, and their abilities could well carry them to the girls’ program’s first state title. But the girls in orange know it will take ultimate focus to achieve that lofty aim.

“The girls are hitting the ball real well right now,” Bean said. “We’re building confidence on the range, and tomorrow, we’re going to go out and re-instill some of the strategies we’ve been talking about this year. We’ve been looking at the course visually, and tomorrow will be the first time all five of us have played it together.”

Both squads have been testing the waters at Pinon Hills since Saturday and should have a good idea of what it will take to be successful come Monday and the first round of the two-day state event.

“The kids got to see the course, see the layout, and we just have to make sure we hit the ball in good, safe places,” Bulldog coach Paul Kirkwood said. “I think if we do that, we’ll be okay. But we have to play smart.

“The boys hit the ball pretty well in practice today, but this is a course we’re not used to. There are a lot of hills, a lot of trees, and we don’t see that in Artesia. So ball placement will be very important, and I think we know how to get that done.”

The Class 5A State Tournament will kick off at 8:30 a.m. Monday with a shotgun start. The Lady ‘Dogs will be playing in foursomes with St. Pius, Goddard and Lovington, while the Bulldogs will be grouped with St. Pius, Piedra Vista and Santa Teresa.

“I expect a few big numbers on some of these holes, but everybody’s going to shoot those,” said Bean. “Our goal is to be on the lower end of those numbers.

“We’re in a great frame of mind. We’re ready, we’re serious when we’re on the course and having fun off the course. The team, the family, is closer than they’ve ever been, and now we’re just going to go out there and try to add the first girls’ state championship trophy to the case.”

“We’re ready to get started, and we’re happy for all the other teams that did well in district or at state this week, proud of the baseball and softball teams for moving on,” said Kirkwood. “That’s the great thing about Artesia – everybody pulls for everybody else.

“The kids are excited. They’re happy to be here and ready to represent Artesia and do the best they can to make Artesia proud.”

Artesia fans will have the opportunity to keep track of the Bulldogs’ and Lady ‘Dogs’ scoring in real-time online at www.iwanamaker.com/node/4068491.