WALPOLE — The Fall Mountain golf team took a big step forward last year, improving from a 2-25 record in 2017 to a 15-7 finish.

But with a key departure and an expected step up in competition, taking the next step will be anything but easy, according to Coach Jason Lintner.

“I think if we can make it to the state tournament, I think that would be a huge win,” Lintner said at a practice at Hooper Golf Club, the team’s home course.

The season starts today for the Wildcats with a 4 p.m. match against Monadnock at Claremont Country Club. And there’s reason for Fall Mountain to be optimistic.

The Wildcats return their top two golfers from last year: junior Kaylee Lintner, who ranked 14th in Division III and finished as the state runner-up in the girls’ individual tourney, and freshman Mitchell Cormier, who ranked 20th as an 8th-grader.

But the loss of Dylan Adamovich — who ranked 21st in Division III but transferred to Claremont High School — leaves a big hole at No. 3.

“Mitchell Cormier and Kaylee, they’re gonna play their game like they’ve always played, they’re gonna get the most amount of points,” Coach Lintner said, “but our No. 3 and No. 4 will really determine whether or not we’re successful this year.”

Filling the last two spots of this year’s roster are returning sophomore Cameron Fry and junior Spencer Harrington — a transfer from Vermont Academy.

One of the biggest transitions for Harrington has been the scoring system. Vermont employs a simple stroke system, where the players’ raw scores are added up for a team score; New Hampshire Division III uses the Stableford system, where players earn different point totals for eagles, birdies, pars, bogeys and double bogeys, and nothing for scores worse than that.

“It’s good, because if you have bad hole, it resets the next one. You could have a chance to do really well and get more points back,” Harrington said.

He added: “I hope to be, like, the cleanup, where if we’re down by three or four points, I’d bring my score in and I happen to have those three, four, five points to edge us into the lead.”

While Harrington and Fry play important depth roles, big expectations will also be on the top two to keep their momentum going from last year.

Lintner said he expects Cormier to move up from the team’s No. 2 golfer to No. 1, after getting a year of high school golf under his belt as a middle schooler.

“I’m trying to improve my score by like, three strokes this year,” Cormier said. “Just get better as the years go.”

Lintner added: “He’s hitting the ball even farther now, he’s hitting it more accurately, and he plays a lot; he’s out here every day practicing, and as he continues to do that. He’ll just get stronger and better.”

As for Kaylee Lintner, she won’t encounter too many other female golfers in Division III, but once she hits the state tourney, there could be some new competition. While last year’s champion, Keene High’s Hannah Drew, has graduated, some new competition is on the horizon, with Dover golf prodigy Shivani Vora entering high school this year, and fellow prodigy Carys Fennessey coming in next year.

Vora has finished in the top two at the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association state tournament each of the past two summers, and so Lintner’s title prospects are anything but secure.

“She knows that this is not a walk in the park this year,” Coach Lintner said of his daughter. “She’s seen these other girls play, she knows what’s coming and she knows she’s been beaten by them before, so this is not something that’s a ‘because I came in second last year, I’m definitely gonna win this year’ kind of thing.”

Last year, the Division III state tournament was canceled due to weather, and Fall Mountain finished seventh based on its record.

Te players this year would love a crack at a title.

“I think we stack up pretty good,” Cormier said. “Our top players have to play good, and we have to get points out of our “3” and “4” players. I think we’ll be good if we just stay on the attack the whole year.”