A lot of wide open spaces. Few hazards and few out-of-bounds markers.
"Out here, it's so open, you can take risks," Vaeth said.
Playing in the third group of the Class 1 District 1 tournament, Vaeth regularly outdrove the others in his foursome and set himself up to go for greens during his round Wednesday. The result was a 12-over-par 84 that placed Vaeth second in the field of 41 golfers.
The Saxony Lutheran freshman earned a berth to the Class 1 state tourney along with teammate Tyler James, a junior.
"Zach played very well," Saxony coach Carroll Williams said. "He kept it under control. He made a couple of mistakes that he was unhappy with, but he really did a good job.
"He worked hard yesterday on a couple facets of his game and it paid dividends today."
The Crusaders had a team score of 384 to finish third as a team behind Thayer (350) and defending district champion St. Vincent (371).
The Indians qualified three golfers for state — sophomores Brandon Trapp and Ben Schremp and junior Jason Carron.
For Vaeth, who said he's a long hitter who sometimes has to rein in his game to avoid trouble on his home course at Dalhousie, Wednesday's round was a welcomed change.
"There are a lot of places on this course where you can drill it really hard and stay out of trouble," Williams said.
Vaeth said he particularly enjoyed the par-5s. He finished his round on the par-5, 476-yard second hole, hammering a drive 20 yards past his playing partners and to within 225 of the green. After a mis-hit on his second shot, he sailed his third shot right at the flag and within 20 feet of the hole. He settled for par to complete a round that had no birdies.
"I think on almost every par-5, I had a birdie putt," he said. "I wanted to have a birdie putt on those and if I missed it, leave myself with a tap-in."
Vaeth finished two strokes behind Zane Betz, the only player representing Van Buren.
"I was just out there trying to play my game and hoping to have a decent round," Vaeth said.
While Vaeth will make his state debut in his rookie season, James will be making his second straight state appearance for the 2-year-old Saxony program. He shaved one stroke off his score from last year and finished with a 90.
"He was 1-under on his first five holes," Williams said. "He lost his train of thought and was trying too much, working a little too hard and it cost him several shots. He still gets to go to state, and it will be good experience for them."
The Crusaders finished third for the second straight year in the district at Ste. Genevieve. The scores for the three top teams were higher than last year, as Saxony and St. Vincent both featured young lineups.
Indians sending three
St. Vincent, which finished fourth in the state last year, had just one retuning player — Carron, who shot a 93 on Wednesday.
Trapp led the Indians with an 89, and Schremp shot a 90. Junior Cory Schaaf rounded out St. Vincent's scoring with a 99, which left him five off the state cut. Freshman Brent Wengert finished at 105.
"Jason got to go last year, so he has a clue what's going on up there," St. Vincent coach Tom Prost said. "The two sophomores were not on varsity last year, but they've moved up to 1 and 2. They're very composed and they play plenty of golf in the summer, so it's not going to be a shocker to them.
"My kids came in shooting just about what they normally shoot. When you're on an away course and you shoot steady golf, that's all you can ask."
Despite recalling a year when the Indians finished second in the district and second in the state, Prost has no problem with the recent change that sends only one full team and the 10 other top individuals (from which a team can post a state score if it has four players).
"I like having lots of individuals up there instead of two teams from each district and a few other kids," Prost said. "It gives a lot of schools a chance to get up there, which might help their programs out. If they see one or two kids from their school going, they may say, 'I want to try harder and I want to go one of these years.'
"You're sending your best team, and first place is what counts."
Team scores — Thayer 350, St. Vincent 371, Saxony Lutheran 384, Bloomfield 399, Advance 413, Ste. Genevieve Valle 429, Summersville 460, Viburnum 489.
Local individuals (94 or better made state)
St. Vincent — Brandon Trapp 89, Ben Schremp 90, Jason Carron 93, Corey Schaaf 99, Brent Wengert 105.
Saxony Lutheran — Zach Vaeth 84, Tyler James 90, Adam Boehme 104, Garrett Brewer 106, Nick Murphy 120.
Advance — Cody Mitchell 93, Cody Poe 94, Tyler Slinkard 112, Nate Middleton 114, Matt Lineberry 140.