By Chris Parker
There are many talented girls golfers across our coverage area. Below are some of the girls golfers to watch this season.
NOTE: The athletes are listed in alphabetical order.
Isabella Benson, Republic Sophomore
Benson took sixth at the COC golf tournament as a freshman. She placed 63rd in her first state tournament with rounds of 105 and 103.
Those steady rounds were indicative of the player Benson is.
“I think her best asset as a golfer is that she takes it one shot at a time,” Republic golf coach Curt Plotner said. “If she hits a bad shot, she doesn’t let it bother her and moves on to the next one. She is really steady and just plays her game.”
Consistency has been evident for Benson in the early going this year.
“It is early in practice, but I can already see more consistency in her game this year,” Plotner said. “She is hitting a lot of really quality shots in practice, and you can tell that she has put in a lot of work this offseason. I think that consistency will lead to better scores for her this fall.”
Benson will look to once again be all-conference and all-district, but with improved finishes across the board.
“I expect her to have another good season,” Plotner said. “She was all-conference, all-district, and a state qualifier as a freshman. I think that she can do each of those things again if she plays the way that she is capable. The thing that I am most proud of her for is her ability to lead our team. We have several new girls this fall and she is always giving them advice and trying to help them out.”
Scotlynn Blackington, Glendale Senior
Blackington was one of the top golfers in the Ozark Conference last year finishing third overall with an 85. At state, Blackington finished 37th in Class 3 with rounds of 102 and 91 for a 192 overall.
“Scotlynn was new to the game when she joined our team as a freshman,” Glendale golf coach Ron Yocum said. “She has many quality assets, but two assets I think separate her from average golfers is she’s not afraid of hard work and is a willing learner. The game didn’t come easy for her as it does others, but she developed a love for the process of getting a little better every day.”
That drive to get better has shown throughout her high school career.
“Scotlynn has improved each season as a member of our team,” Yocum said. “As a freshman, she learned about the basic fundamentals. As a sophomore, she improved to the point she was one of our top JV golfers on a team that finished third in the state. Scotlynn continued to improve her skills, both physically and mentally, and earned a spot on our varsity team as a junior.”
Emree Cameron, Nevada Sophomore
Cameron shot back-to-back 80’s at the Class 2 state tournament last year on her way to a fourth-place finish overall. She is an experienced player who is strong off the tee.
“Her best asset as a golfer is length off the tee and her experience on the golf,” Mt. Vernon golf coach Brian Leonard said. “Plus, she has played so many other tournaments, she has the playing experience to compete in high school golf.”
She has brought the length off the tee to other parts of her game.
“Emree has increased her distance and is starting to dial her wedges in to get her approach shots closer to the hole,” Leonard said.
Cameron has both big individual goals and team goals entering her second season of high school golf.
“Emree has one year of high school golf competition under her belt. She finished fourth last season at state, which has motivated her to finish higher at State,” Leonard said. “First we have the season to concentrate on as a team. Emree’s consistency is an asset any high school golf coach would love to have on their team. Her scores should be around par the majority of her tournaments. With this being said, we are concentrating on getting the other team members in the mid-to low 90’s. With Emree’s low score and the other girls in the 90’s, this should be good enough to get the team to the state tournament and be competitive.”
Avery Chappell, Cassville Junior
Chappell is poised for a big junior season after a strong state tournament that saw her shoot 87 and 84 over the two days of the Class 2 state tournament to finish 10th overall.
“She has many great qualities as a golfer but her greatest asset is her work ethic. She practices nearly every day the weather permits,” Cassville golf coach Jay Rogers. “My goal for her this year is to lower her scoring average and excel in post season play again.”
Audrey Duvall, Glendale Sophomore
Duvall finished 11th overall at the Ozark Conference and 42nd at state in her first season as a high school golfer. She shot 100 and 96 in her two state rounds last year for an overall total of 196.
“Audrey joined our team as a freshman last year,” Glendale golf coach Ron Yocum said. “One of her best assets she brought to our team was experience playing golf, not only recreationally, but also in some competitive events. That experience definitely gave her a head start on many of her team members. Audrey also enjoys competing and gives her best effort no matter how her round is progressing.”
Duvall has shown marked improvement in her mental game.
“When you join a team as a freshman and earn a spot on the varsity team on one of the better teams in the area, you are frequently paired with excellent golfers from other quality teams,” Yocum said. “I felt Audrey really improved her ability to play her own game and not let her opponents play interfere with her game. Course management and decision making on the course were also improved as she gained experience through her season.”
Marlene Edgeman, Marshfield Junior
Edgeman returns to defend her Class 2 state championship this year. She won the Class 2 state title last year by shooting 72 and 79 for a 151 overall.
While Edgeman is a state champion, she continues to work hard to defend her title.
“Marlee’s best assets would definitely be her work ethic and humility,” Marshfield golf coach Cheratin Hunter said. “You will rarely find a student athlete who puts in the time and effort to consistently improve themselves like she does. She is also her teammate’s biggest fan.”
Two of the area’s Edgeman has worked on in the offseason are putting and the mental side of the game.
“Marlee has been working hard to refine her putting and mental endurance since last season,” Hunter said. “She has gained confidence since last season, and I believe it will show in each tournament this season.”
Kenadi Killingsworth, Mt. Vernon Junior
Killingsworth finished seventh in Class 1 last year with rounds of 93 and 97.
The mental aspect of Killingsworth’s game sets her apart.
“Kenadi’s biggest asset is her positive attitude,” Mt. Vernon golf coach Thomas Hagerman said. “When you watch her play a round of golf you cannot tell if she is having a great round or if it is a struggle. If she has a hole that she did not play particularly well on she won’t take it with her to the next hole and let her effect her negatively. She learns from it and then moves on to conquer the next hole. She has a saying, “Great Attitude, Great Game.” Her other asset is her ability to be long off the tee. She loves her driver.”
While Killingsworth is great off the tee, she has added better chipping to her game this year.
“It appears from observing her in practice this year that Kenadi has made a point to improve her chipping,” Leonard said. “She knows the easiest and fastest way to improve her scoring average is the short game. The better the chip, the less putts she will have during her round. Less putts equals lower score.”
Killingsworth first picked up the game of golf as an eighth grader, which has led to some inconsistency. Focusing on more consistency are a big goal for Killingsworth this year.
“My expectations for Kenadi this year is to just be more consistent,” Leonard said. “The last couple of years we had a lot of peaks and valleys. Now that she is a junior and with all the experience she has gained, plus the extra practice she has put in I’m positive Kenadi will have a more consistent golf season.”
Lyla Louderbaugh, Catholic Senior
The Catholic girls golf team will have a much different look this year, but senior Lyla Louderbaugh shooting low scores will be consistent.
“It’ll be sad that I don’t have all my teammates,” said Lyla. “But, you know, they’re going to move on to college and do their own thing.”
Last year, Louderbaugh finished third overall in Class 3 shooting a 77 on Day 1 before following it up with a 72 on Day 2 for a 149 overall. She will be amongst the favorites to win a state title this year after a strong summer of golf.
Catherine Rhoads, Glendale Senior
Rhoads finished sixth at the Ozark Conference tournament before finishing 16th at the Class 3 state tournament. She was consistent over the two days at state shooting 88 and 87 for a 175 overall.
“Catherine was new to the game when she joined our team as a freshman,” Glendale golf coach Ron Yocum said. “She has many quality assets, but two assets I think separate her from average golfers is that she has developed the ability focus in on the shot at hand, learn from the results, and emotional let go of the negative thoughts associated with this crazy game. She developed a love for the process of getting a little better every day and puts in the time necessary to make that happen.”
Sydney Righter, Camdenton Junior
Righter will look to compete for the top honors in the Ozark Conference this year coming off a fifth place finish at the conference meet as a sophomore. She shot 89. At state, Righter finished 39th overall with rounds of 98 and 96 for 194 overall.
Righter’s strong mental approach was key to that success.
“She stays calm and doesn’t let a couple of bad shots get to her,” Camdenton golf coach Jo Beth Nicklas said. “I would expect her to be all conference as well as a district medalist and state qualifier once again. She learned a great deal at state last year and is now ready for the completion that comes with it.
Maci Rogers, Branson Junior
Rogers earned a seventh-place finish in the COC as a sophomore. At state, she shot rounds of 103 and 96 at the Class 3 state tournament to finish 48th overall.
Rogers is motivated to improve on both those marks in her junior year.
“Her best asset as a player is her desire and aspiration to improve on her scores,” Branson golf coach Tim Long said. “She has played a bunch over the summer, has taken some lessons, and seems to be striking the ball better than last year. She is definitely a player who works on her areas of weakness and has great mental preparation as she plays.
Savannah Thessing, New Covenant Junior
Thessing is now a two-time state champion through two years of high school golf. She won the Class 1 state championship last season with back-to-back 86’s for a 172 overall.
“Winning the state championship as both a freshman and sophomore, Savannah is excited to continue that same success into her junior year,” New Covenant golf coach Mickey Moore said. “She worked hard on her game through the summer and competed in several Southwest Missouri Junior Golf Association (SMJGA) and other regional events. She has also matured in her mental approach to the game, focusing on realistic expectations and making sure it is always about having fun. Her junior year is an important one, as she is now eligible to begin recruiting conversations with colleges and universities.”
Thessing is a student of the game who is always working to improve in every aspect.
“Savannah’s humility, combined with a strong work ethic, has driven her to better and better tournament scores and results,” Moore said. “It is also great to see her thrive in a team environment, sharing what she has learned with the newer players on her team.”
Since last year, Thessing has improved upon her work off the tee box and the mental rigors that come with playing high-level golf.
“Technically speaking, she has worked on adding more distance off the tee and gaining confidence in her wedges and short irons,” Moore said. “Mentally, she is learning how to manage expectations and handle the increased pressure of playing at a highly competitive level.”