On the professional level, golf is an individual sport. In high school, it’s the ultimate team sport.
One player, no matter how talented, cannot singled-handedly lead a team to the state tournament.
Therefore, if Avon Lake wants to live out its dream of ending this season in Columbus, seniors Emma Davies and Maggie Owen, the Nos. 2 and 3 golfers in the lineup, will play as pivotal a role in the team’s fortunes as the Shoregals top player, University of Cincinnati commit Paighton Masterson.
Davies and Owen are up for the challenge.
“My season has been going exceptionally well,” Davies said. “I’ve been playing a lot better at the start of this year, I’ve had some nice low scores I’m not used to seeing.”
In the season-opening Magnificat Blue Streak Invitational at the Legacy Course at Sweetbriar, Davies shot a 77, just one off the pace set by Masterson.
The Shoregals shot 319 as a team on the same course they will play in the Division I sectional tournament in October.
“We have a lot of confidence right now,” Davies said. “We’ve seen we have the ability to play well.”
Owen started the season with an 81 at the Blue Streak Invite but she know she’s just a few tweaks in her game from being in the 70s as well.
“I need to become a better putter, which has always been a struggle for me,” Owen said. “Also, I need to focus on hitting my greens in regulation.”
Avon Lake has advanced to the district tournament each of the past three years and each time the Shoregals have come up short.
As a four-year starter, Davies has played the Legends at Massillon course, site of the Division I district tournament and the last stop on the road to Columbus three times.
After letting the course get the best of her as a freshman when she shot 98, Davies has been solid the last two years, shooting an 84 as a sophomore and an 82 last season that put her in the top third in the field.
When she was a freshman, Davies never imagined she’d consistently be shooting in the high 70s or low 80s by her senior year.
“I started off in the upper 40s or low 50s (for nine holes) and didn’t think I could improve that much in three years,” Davies said. “I’ve found the toughest part to master is the mental part of the game. When you get to districts, you can’t let the nerves get to you. I think you also need to have a strong start because it’s a long day. If you have a bad hole you have to be able to shake it off and move on.”
Owen, a veteran of two district tournaments, showed dramatic improvement as a junior, going from a 102 in her first time at the Legends course to an 83 last season.
“My sophomore year at districts I let everything get into my head a lot,” Owen said. “Last year I shot my best round ever (at the time) so it was really reassuring. Now I know the key is not letting anything, or anyone else, get in my head.”
Shoregals coach Krystine Frisch refers to this year’s squad as her “Dream Team” and says she actually has six golfers who could help the team come tournament time. While Frisch has always been able to pencil in a low score for Masterson, she knows having Davies and Owen come into the their own is what has really made the team a force.
“Emma and Maggie have worked so hard every year to get better,” Frisch said. “As seniors they have such a consistency to their game. I know I can always count on them for a low score. If everyone keeps playing like they are, I hope this is the year we put it together and make a run down south.”
The Shoregals have already broken the school record for an 18-hole tournament twice this year, first with the 319 at the Blue Streak and again a day later with a 318 to win the Edison Invitational.
While this is the last shot to make state for Owen and Davies, Owen isn’t going to let that become a burden.
“I really don’t feel pressure,” she said. “Every one just needs to play their best and give it all they got and that’s what we’ll accept.”
While Davies is staying focused on the next match on the schedule, she has allowed herself to think about what it would be like to make the trip to state.
“It would be so much fun for all of us to make it to Columbus this year,” Davies said. “It would just be amazing.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.