By Susan Jenior
Any coach who has started a golf program from scratch can tell you, it is hard.
Golf is unlike any other sport.
Golfers must have their own equipment, shoes and time to practice. While most sports receive their equipment when they walk onto the field or into the locker room the first day of practice, golfers not only do not have a playing field at their home school, but also are not handed a full set of clubs their first day.
As girls golf grows in Northeast Ohio, so does expansion within local leagues, including the Portage Trail Conference and the Rootstown Rovers, who are now in their second year as a varsity sponsored sport.
The Rovers have quickly found improvement and shot the program’s lowest score in history last week with a 200.
“This year’s team has really worked hard at improving in the areas we struggled last year,” said Rootstown coach Matt Just.
“Last year at the sectional tournament, we had 17 three-putts or higher. So our main focus this off-season was to improve our short game, both chipping and putting,” Just added. “I think the girls have been seeing the fruits of their labor with improved scores from last year.”
It’s a solid lowering of scores this season. The team fired an average of 221 per match in 2022 and this year is averaging a 215 per match.
“That improvement is also factoring in the loss of the 2022 PTC Player of the Year from our squad earlier this season,” said Just.
The Rovers have a couple of golfers that have improved their nine-hole average by more than seven strokes from 2022, including Ava Miller and Alex Biggin. Both girls just started playing golf in 2022.
“Overall, I am very happy with the way we are playing this year and look to see the improvement continue into next season when we return everyone from this year’s squad with six sophomore and two juniors,” said Just.
The Kent Roosevelt and Aurora girls golf teams competed in the third of four Suburban League tournaments at Fox Den Golf Course in Stow.
Both the Rough Riders and Greenmen, members of the league’s American Conference, have been chasing Medina Highland for the top spot.
However, the girls from the only Portage County schools competing in the Suburban League are having outstanding success.
In the tourney at Fox Den, Aurora finished second, just 20 strokes behind Medina Highland and the Riders were just four strokes shy of Aurora, good for third place.
Aurora’s Brooklyn Millard fired a solid 67, 4-under-par, to earn medalist honors at the event.
Roosevelt’s Maddie Kost carded a 73, good for a spot in the top-four girls of the event.
One additional tournament of four remains to determine the All-American Conference first team as well as the champion.
The Rough Rider Invitational has been a tournament that many teams look forward to each season.
The 36-hole event features several of the premier Division-I teams in the area, with additional teams traveling from Dayton and Toledo as well as throughout Northeast Ohio.
When the final putt had fallen for the 36 holes at Windmill lakes Golf Club in Ravenna, the Hudson A team had earned the championship.
However, several of the boys from Roosevelt had outstanding scores and demonstrated improvement as well as their skill throughout the 36 holes.
As only a sophomore, Liam Curtis has already proven himself to be a golfer able to compete with anyone in the state.
This tournament was no different as Curtis finished tied for second place with rounds of 70-68 for a 138 that 2-under-par for the tournament.
Christian Mineo, a senior, added rounds of 71-77 for a solid 148 that landed him in the top seven of the tournament.
Look for this team to only continue to improve as the season progresses to conference tournaments and OHSAA season-ending championships.
The Pirates work hard throughout the season. The varsity team helps with the Pirates Play Golf elementary school program and work to hone their own games. This season, the Pirates were awarded new golf clubs thanks to the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation and presented to them by the Northern Ohio PGA at Windmill Lakes Golf Club.
They are making great use of the golf clubs, recently finishing in fifth place at the 15-team Mahoning Valley Invitational held at Salem hill Golf Club.
The team was led by Taylor Blazek (80) in fifth place and Gracie Westover (85) in 10th place.
It’s a busy week for the Pirates as they travel to Garfield on Monday and welcome the improving Rootstown Rovers for a PTC matchup at Olde Dutch Mill on Tuesday.
Butler helped the Mogadore Wildcats improve to 10-3 overall and 4-3 in the Portage Trail Conference with a victory over St. Thomas.
Butler was medalist, carding an even-par 35 at Pleasant View Golf Course in Louisville, with teammate Jude Thiry carding a two-over-par 37.
Kost led the Roosevelt girls to a victory over Green at Turkeyfoot Golf Course in the Portage Lakes. Kost fired a 1-under-par 36 with Cassidy Singer adding a 43.
SAMANTHA CLARK and CORTNEY EVERT
The duo shared medalist honors as Streetsboro topped Twinsburg at Gleneagles Golf Course in a non-league contest. Clark and Evert both carded 38s.
AUSTIN BIGGIN and TRENTAN SINES
Both earned medalist honors as the Rovers beat both Cuyahoga Falls and Akron Firestone at Brookledge Golf Course in Cuyahoga Falls. Both Rover golfers fired a 5-over-par 40.
Morgan continued his consistent play as Southeast topped St. Thomas. Morgan fired a 39, just 3-over-par, at his home course, Olde Dutch Mill.
(Note: Schedules change frequently due to weather and transportation. Spectators should call ahead to verify the match is confirmed.)
THIS WEEK IN BOYS GOLF
TODAY — Rootstown @ Southeast, Aurora, Kent @ Suburban Tournament #3, Springfield @ Waterloo.
TUESDAY — St. Thomas @ Rootstown, Waterloo @ Garfield, Southeast @ Mogadore.
WEDNESDAY — Rootstown, Keystone, Waterloo @ Ravenna, Garfield @ Liberty, Warren JFK @ Southeast.
THURSDAY— Cuyahoga Falls @ Rootstown, Newton Falls @ Garfield, Mogadore @ Warren JFK.
THIS WEEK IN GIRLS GOLF
TUESDAY — Field @ Rootstown, Streetsboro @ Hudson, Southeast @ Garfield.
WEDNESDAY — Rootstown @ Southeast, Nordonia @ Kent, Streetsboro @ Garfield.
THURSDAY — Stow, Tallmadge @ Kent.
FRIDAY — Streetsboro, Field @ MAC Postseason Tournament.
SUBURBAN LEAGUE AMERICAN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT #3
(At Fox Den Golf Course, Stow – Par 71)
TEAM CHAMPION: Medina Highland
MEDALIST: Brooklyn Millard, Aurora 67
TEAM STANDINGS: Medina Highland 297, Aurora 317, Kent Roosevelt 321, Revere 345, Copley 409, Tallmadge 418.
AURORA (317): Gracyn Vidovic 80, Brooklyn Millard 67, Manisha Girn 84, Meena Kraus 86, Brooke Barry 88, Courtney Zeid 88.
KENT ROOSEVELTE (317): Maddie Kost 73, Ashlyn Leavery 81, Cassidy Singer 85, Izzi Wood 82, Ella Houk 97, Anna Picicco 96.