Girls’ Varsity Golf finishes 4th in conference

Sophia Fuller, Reporter

After finishing fourth in the conference behind Corinth Holders, our girls’ golf team barely missed making it to states. The team finished at regionals just nine strokes from qualifying for the state match.

For the 11 girls on the team, the season was filled near breakthroughs, including finishing multiple matches a couple shots off of second place.

One success was winning the SG Invitational, a tournament held at the Brevofield Country Club.

“The girl’s confidence just boomed to win that tournament and then to finish third at Wakefield, which is a really tough course for our first match of the season,” said Jeremiah Mattingly, one of the coaches for the team.

As a young team with just one senior, Mattingly and fellow coach Jen Gantz expected the team would have some growing pains.

“I think a big part was that the girls are learning more how to play the courses. Last year a lot of them were more wide-eyed, open and not really knowing how to play the course to get a low score,” Mattingly said. “This year they’re learning how to play different shots and different scenarios and be more disciplined where it’s causing issues of lower scores.”

Gantz noted similar improvement as the season progressed.

“Their commitment level has increased. They see the game clearer, like how they are going to play each hold, which club to use, the best lie, etc.” Gantz said.

But golf is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport, and Mattingly noted the team could improve this aspect of their game.

I think the big improvement next year would be for them to have more confidence: one bad shot’s not going to ruin your round. Let it go and move on,” Mattingly said.

Three girls from the team also qualified for regionals. Junior Carter Day made her second trip, while junior Lizzy Hussey and freshman M. K. Hederick qualified for the first time.

Hederick felt she benefitted from the guidance of Mattingly and Gantz in her debut season, and Mattingly pointed to her as one of the team leaders.

“Our coaches have helped the team improve throughout the season by encouraging us to do our best while also having fun,” Hederick said.

Mattingly also had praise for Day’s performance leading up to the regional match. He said Day, “struggled at the beginning of the year,” but noted “she has rebounded really strong and is playing really well now.”

Day finished second for the Cougars at The Emerald in New Bern, shooting a 104.

Hederick, who lead the team with the lowest stroke average during the regular season, also took top Cougar honors at regionals with her 102 round. Hussey rounded out the team with a 133.

Athens Drive golfer Jennifer Chang led the field with a 68. The Cougars finished last among the 10 teams to qualify.

“We wanted them to do a little better, but understanding only one girl had experience going there. It was good, honestly, gaining the experience, and next year, hopefully, we’ll get at least one qualifier to states,” Mattingly said. “Overall, I was happy that they made it through. They understood it was a struggle, and now they have something to look forward to for next year.”

Hederick has some ideas for improvement in the next season, including sharpening their skills during their time off.

“Next year I want to get the girls to practice earlier, so we can start getting things done before we actually have the matches,” Hederick said.

The girls connected very well this season as a team and are already making plans to play together in the off season.

Mattingly said, “I think that the biggest thing is creating a bond and understanding that this is a team that wants to get better and just have fun.”