Lewis likes progress of HCHS golf team


The Harlan County High School golf team includes, from left: Matt Lewis, coach Greg Lewis and Brayden Carolari; not pictured: Kobe Burkhart and Caleb Rose.

Heading into his second season as golf coach at Harlan County High School, Greg Lewis likes what he sees from his young squad after the progress they demonstrated a year ago.

“I’m excited about the group of kids I have,” Lewis said. “I think we are probably the youngest, most inexperienced team in the region, but I also have no doubt that we will be the hardest working team. My guys are definitely not afraid of putting in the course time.”
The Black Bears have been busy this summer working on their game at the Wasioto Winds course in Pineville while following Kentucky High School Athletic Association guidelines for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is going to be a season where there is no normal,” Lewis said. “Playing through the pandemic is going to be a new experience for everyone. I’m just glad that our kids get to have their season. Golf is the perfect sport for social distancing and doing what we need to do to keep our kids, coaches and officials safe and healthy. And the health of these kids is our number one priority.
“The KHSAA has implemented several new regulations for courses to help ensure the safety of everyone involved. Being the first sport out during the pandemic, we need to make sure we do everything asked of us to set the tone for the rest of the sports coming in after us. The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Being able to get these kids out playing the sports they love will, hopefully, help bring at least some normalcy back to their lives.”
Matt Lewis, a sophomore, is the Bears’ most experienced golfer following the graduation of Caleb Ashley.
“Matt became the first freshman in HC history to win a match in the county matchup with Harlan. He’s long off the tee and he has great hands on and around the green,” Lewis said of his son. “Once his ball striking catches up with his tee game and short game, Matt will really start putting up some low numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt in the running to win another match or two this season.”
Brayden Casolari, only a seventh-grader, has had a great summer in youth tournaments and could play a big role in his first season of high school golf.
“I’m very excited to coach Brayden. He has won several tournaments throughout Kentucky and Tennessee’s junior tours. For his age, he’s extremely long off the tee and good with his irons,” Lewis said. “As Brayden develops some more touch on and around the greens and gains some experience, I look for him to contend quite a bit this season. He’s got a great chance to knock off a win as a middle schooler.”
Former HCHS football standout Kobe Burkhart has joined the golf team as a senior.
“Kobe is a big, strong, athletic kid who has been successful in the football field as well as in his fishing career. He’s played golf for a while but never for a formal golf team. The big thing for Kobe is getting the experience of competing in a formal setting,” Lewis said. “Once he gets used to the tournaments, I have no doubt he’s going to put up some great numbers.”
Caleb Rose, a sophomore, is back for his second season and continues to progress.
“He’s an eager, hard working young man. He simply needs to get more experience and time on the course,” Lewis said. “He’s a great kid but just lacks the experience of competing that our other kids have. He’s made huge progress the last few years, and I think he will be contributing to our team before the end of the season.”
The Bears opened their season Monday at Pineville and will compete in several more tournaments before the Harlan County Golf Championship matchup against Harlan followed by the Region 10 Tournament to close the year.
“As I said, I am very excited about this team,” Lewis said. “ I think we have a chance to put up some good numbers and compete for some match/tournament wins this year but I really think the next three or four years are going to be fun for Black Bear golf. I’ve got a couple kids who I believe will be competing for regional championships in the near future. As excited as I am about the possibilities of my team on the course, I’m more proud of who they are off the course. All of my kids are outstanding students and even better kids. I am proud to call them part of the Black Bear golf family.”