When it comes to high school golf, 2006 is a case of diminishing returns.

Only 10 teams will tee off in DODDS-Europe’s shortest sports season — five weeks from first tee to handing out European plaques. And just where that will be done Oct. 12-13 has yet to be decided.

Typical of the bad lie into which high school golf has fallen is the situation in Würzburg. Würzburg freshman Kayle Heldon was the European girls champion last October and teammate Katherine Riley walked off with the bronze medal.

This year, Würzburg was unable even to form a team. Heldon’s family joined the exodus from the rapidly closing Franconian community, Würzburg principal Walt Seely said Friday, and Riley, “is playing another sport.”

Seely cited manpower problems as the reason the Wolves have left the links.

“We didn’t have anyone to sponsor or coach the team,” he said. “We just don’t have any people.”

Lack of numbers claimed the programs at SHAPE and Mannheim, too. It’s a far cry from the sport’s glory days, said Ramstein coach Kent Grosshuesch.

“They used to have a big program,” the coach of the defending European Division I champions said of Würzburg.

Ramstein is not facing those number problems. It has 39 golfers — including 10 girls — out for its teams.

The Royals graduated boys champion Chris Hustead, a six-shot winner over Rota’s Charlie Springle and Heidelberg’s Josh Encenrode in last fall’s 36-hole season finale. Springle also has graduated.

Grosshuesch is looking for his senior leadership cadre of Matt Weiderhout, Michael Haas and Hank Mol to challenge boys individual favorite Ben Antonik of Kaiserslautern. Antonik, who was unbeaten during the regular season last fall, uncharacteristically shot 89-84 in the tourney to finish eight shots behind his friend, Hustead.

Perennial small schools champion Rota, the defending European champion, has a new coach in Douglas Dowden. Dowden is counting on Alex Crist, Mick Delgado, Chris Hallbritter and Brian Hurley to continue the school’s winning tradition.

“We’re doing as many tournaments as we can,” he said, “trying to qualify as many kids as we can.”

Two of those events are Sept 21-22 at Lakenheath, where the Admirals will tangle with Ramstein.

Among the top returning girls is Kaiserslautern sophomore Barbara Burriss, who finished sixth as a freshman in 2005.

The season tees off Friday at Heidelberg and Baumholder.

2006 golf schedule

Sept. 15

At Heidelberg: Ramstein, Hanau, Vilseck and Patch

At Baumholder: Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern

Sept. 21

At Heidelberg: Baumholder, Patch, Kaiserslautern, Hanau and Vilseck

Sept. 21-22

At Lakenheath: Ramstein, Wiesbaden and Rota

Sept. 28

At Kaiserslautern: Heidelberg, Vilseck and Lakenheath

Sept. 29

At Baumholder: Lakenheath, Hanau and Patch

Oct. 5

At Ramstein: Baumholder, Hanau and Wiesbaden

At Patch: Heidelberg, Vilseck and Kaiserslautern

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