The Paper photo by John Groth <br>
Crawfordsville’s 1956 boys golf team was the school’s last IHSAA State team champion.
The Paper photo by John Groth
Crawfordsville’s 1956 boys golf team was the school’s last IHSAA State team champion.
Jon Sommer wasn't going let another Indiana High School Athletic Association team title slip out of his grasp.

Crawfordsville High School had dominated the county and state-wide boys golf scene for the past two years.

They'd won the 1954 State finals but finished runner-up the next year.

He and the other three returning Athenians' starters remembered that feeling of disappointment.

Then, they let it fuel them to the 1956 State title.

"We were sophomores on that state-winning team in 1954," Sommer said. "(Our 1955) team was as good or better. We just had an off day in the State finals. Then in 1956 we were determined to come back our senior year and win. And we did."

Crawfordsville hasn't won an IHSAA State title since the Athenians' captured the 1956 Boys Golf State championship.

Now, Crawfordsville's baseball team has a shot at winning the school's first team title in 52 years, when the Class 3A No. 5 Athenians (31-4) take on Mishawaka Marian (21-10) in Saturday's 4 p.m. Class 3A State finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

Sommer was an integral part of Crawfordsville's last State finals winning team.

He, along with Ron Royer, Bill Locker and Mike Beemer and coach Bob Hoke won the 1956 IHSAA Boys Golf State finals, as Crawfordsville defeated Shortridge 310-316 at Coffin Golf Course in Indianapolis.

Sommer and Royer started for the 1954 State champion team as sophomores, along with Jack Watson and R.B. Swanson (they defeated Shortridge 310-11) and on the 1955 State runner-up team with Locker and Beemer (losing to Anderson 322-325).

Crawfordsville towered above the high school golf circuit during the mid-1950s. Well, it's more like the Athenians crushed nearly every opponent that stood in their way.

From 1951 to 1956, Crawfordsville won 56-straight dual matches, a feat that no Athenians' golf team has even come close to since.

They advanced to the State finals three straight years - winning two titles and finishing runner-up in the other.

Two of their golfers - Royer and Sommer - later played at Indiana University and helped lead the Hoosiers to Big Ten success.

Royer even captained the IU team in 1959 and was named to the All-American Golf Team and led the Hoosier to a runner-up spot in the Big Ten in 1958 and 1959.

Royer still remembers winning that rain-soaked 1956 IHSAA State championship and how he survived his final hole.

He remembers his mother, father and coach Hoke standing on the 18th hole waiting for him to finish as he knocked in a 23- or 25-foot putt to shoot 73 and finish second individually.

Crawfordsville won by being consistent. All four starting golfers averaged around 75.

"Anytime you would break 75, or you had four guys shoot 75 or better you would win," said the 70-year-old Royer, who now lives in Canton, Ga., and is retired. Before retiring, he worked in the industrial packaging business. "We were just very good golfers early."

Sommer, though, acknowledged they sometimes had even tougher matches against their own teammates to hold their line-up position.

"One of the biggest competitions we had all year was to make the team and then hold on to your position on the team," he said. "The guys right behind us were virtually as good as we were, except for maybe Royer who was our best golfer. The competition to make the team and hold your position on the team was as fierce as any match we played."

During the summer, three of Crawfordsville's top six golfers (Locker, Sam Haslam and Ellington) mainly played at Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course, while the other three (Beemer, Sommer and Royer) were regular fixtures at Crawfordsville Country Club.

And they played plenty.

Sommer actually taught Royer how to play golf. Royer was invited out to Crawfordsville Country Club by Sommer and Beemer.

Royer accepted the invitation and went out there to learn the game with them.

Their parents would drop them off at the golf course around 7:30 a.m. and then pick them up around 7 p.m.

They'd play golf all day long and that's how Royer attributes their success.

"Today, that's hard to do because of the structure of golf courses," he said. "I don't think in Atlanta anyone would drop a 10- to 12-year-old off at a golf course and pick them up eight to 10 hours later. (Crawfordsville Country Club) was a nice facility and our parents were nice enough to allow us to do that."

Once the season started though, Crawfordsville played all its home matches at Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course, just like the Athenians do today.

Locker, 70, deemed the "historian" of the group by his peers, said playing at Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course gave them an advantage.

He acknowledged Crawfordsville Municipal was similar to Coffin, where they held the State finals, because it had a lot of hills and there wasn't a real flat lie to hit shots to the green.

"There were some tee- offs, up high," said Locker, a Wabash College graduate. He's retired now but used to work at Raybestos. "A lot of holes at Coffin resembled holes at (Crawfordsville) Municipal. Sure there was some pressure on us when we were doing it. You're pretty focusesd when you're out there playing and trying to do as well as possible.

"I'd have to say we didn't put as much pressure on ourselves when we went out and played. We just went out there and played."

High school golf has changed since they have played.

Now instead of taking only four golfers to the State meet, teams are allowed to take five.

"Today if one person blows up, he doesn't feel terribly bad because he knows that score can be thrown out," said Sommer, 70, who lives in Crawfordsville and still works part-time as CEO of Sommer Metalcraft Corp, a family-owned business which makes products of wire. "But back then, if someone did that, he felt bad."