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BHS golfers take steely aim at state title
Golf isn’t usually thought of as a team sport. It’s a game of a golfer versus the course, another player, or him or herself, but not another team.
Even at the high school and college levels where scores of individuals are pooled together to come up with a team score, players don’t share the bond as they do in “team sports.”
But the Bainbridge girls’ golf team operates as a unit.
“I think our team bonding puts us over the top,” senior captain Anna Bourland said.
The players indicated that encouragement on the course has brought them closer, but they all spend time together off the course as well.
“They’re not just playing for themselves, they’re playing for their teammates,” head coach Steve Nielsen said.
The team aspect led Bainbridge to a second place finish in the state tournament last spring.
Bourland and Peyton Lunzer were Bainbridge’s top individual golfers, placing eighth and 26th, respectively.
Bainbridge has now finished in the top four of the last three state tournaments. The team placed fourth in both 2007 and 2008.
Other than strong chemistry, Bainbridge’s secret to success is the short game: wedge shots, chipping and putting.
At practice this week, Nielsen had his players working on their short game by playing the holes at Wing Point Golf & Country Club from 150 yards out.
The players share Nielsen’s opinion on the importance of chipping and putting.
“It’s what counts,” Bourland said.
This year the team faces the challenge of maintaining its chemistry with several new members coming into the fold.
Five new golfers are on the team this year, and at this point, Nielsen said, they are just learning the rules and etiquette of the game.
Nielsen is leaning on his five returning players Bourland, Peyton Lunzer, Julia Gross, Maddy Devlin and Jasmine Shattuck to mentor the new players.
The 10-player squad is the largest team Nielsen has coached. The big team gives him the luxury of not having to send the newer girls into matches early. Only five players participate in each match and the top four scores are added up for the team mark.
The returning players said they spent most of their summer on the golf course. Some of them participated in tournaments to keep the competitive edge.
Coming into this season, Bainbridge’s main competition is Holy Names Academy, the defending 3A State Champion.
Nielsen said Holy Names has three golfers that will likely play at Division 1 schools.
The Spartans have a date with Holy Names Sept. 30 at home. Taking down the defending champions is one of the players’ primary goals.
“We want to whoop Holy Names, and we want to win state as a team,” Bourland said.