The main goal this year is a top-five finish in the 8th Region Tournament.
With a nice mix of talented upperclassmen and young golfers, second-year Highlands Ladybirds head golf coach Cheryl Spahr said it could happen if her top four scorers can consistently shoot below 100 in the 18-hole tournaments. Highlands graduated three seniors from last year in Sarah Steffen, Savannah Phillips and Alexander Padget.
Highlands finished ninth in the region tournament shooting a 419 last year. Scott County won the 8th Region last year shooting a 336 and Mason County finished second with a 355. Mason County senior Sarah Fite ended up winning the medalist honors at the state tournament shooting a 145.
To reach the main goal, Spahr hopes to see at least four golfers shoot below 100 in tournaments. Golfers play 18 holes in tournaments and nine holes in matches.
Eighth-grader K.J. Toole and freshman Ellie Rowland have shot below that mark in the first two tournaments of the year in the Grant County Invitational at Eagle Creek and the Cooper Classic. Spahr hopes to see junior Olivia Hopper or some of the seniors hit that mark. Highlands has four seniors on the squad in Madelyn Howard, Liz Mairose, Maleah Abner and Libby Birkley.
"If you can consistently shoot a bogey (two over par), you're good," Spahr said. "They don't seem to be too nervous. They seem to be level-headed. If they have a bad shot, they go punch it out onto the fairway so they can have a good shot on the next one."
Golfers see a lot of challenges at different courses. One might have bodies of water beside it and another might have trees. Howard said the key is putting bad shots behind them quickly.
"Most of the game is pretty much in your head," Howard said. "If you hit a bad shot and you get down, you're just going to keep hitting bad shots and getting down. I personally try to stay positive and if I hit a bad shot, I'll laugh it off because it happens. I'm not a professional. That's how I look at it."
Spahr agrees that the putting game makes a huge difference. She said a putting error could lead to a few more shots added to the score so the team puts an emphasis on that part of the game.
Highlands plays in the Ryle Invitational on Monday. The tournament at the Lassing Pointe Golf Club in Union starts at 8 a.m.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports: 2 17 Highlands Ladybirds Golf Preview