Adair County High School’s girls’ golf team might be the youngest and least experienced in the entire state this season.
Head coach Ashley Goodin will field a roster featuring only one high school student—senior Eliza Spinks—and five middle schoolers. All but one of the squad’s six players are completely new to the game.
“I’ve got a lot of younger girls—three in seventh grade, one in sixth, and one in fifth,” Goodin says. “The only one that has played golf before is my fifth grader, Ila Loy.”
While there are certainly disadvantages to having such young, untested players—it took 90 minutes to almost finish two holes their first day on the course—Goodin says there is plenty to be excited about. She points to the squad’s youth and athleticism as promising signs for the program’s future.
“I see a lot of potential for them because they’re all athletic,” Goodin says. “They all play other sports so as they continue to grow and get stronger they’re going to keep on improving. I’ve already seen great improvements already, from every one of them.”
Goodin has adjusted her coaching style to adapt to her team’s unfamiliarity with the game. She says that the first day on the course, when “it took an hour-and-a-half to play a hole-and-a-half,” made her realize that she needed to re-think the approach to practice.
“I had to get creative and kind of change what we were doing,” Goodin explains. “Next time out, we do an alternate-shot game, and I kept the scorecard, because when they’re seniors and they finish up here, I’m going to bring it back and ask them, ‘Do you remember this day when we played alternate-shot for five holes?’ They’ve already come a long way since then and I know they’re going to keep getting better.”
Because of the roster makeup, Goodin can only barely field a varsity team for competition. Only four of the team’s six players are old enough to compete at the varsity level, so the trio of seventh graders—Ashley Loy, Claire Loy, and Allee Campbell—will be relied on to fill out the varsity roster. That leaves Ila Loy and Ella Brown to compete only in individual matches.
Despite not yet being eligible to compete at the varsity level, Goodin thinks Ila Loy can post impressive scores this season.
“If she comes out here and keeps practicing the way she has been, she’s just going to keep shaving off strokes,” Goodin says. “I expect her to consistently be in the 40s. She’s capable of breaking that 40 mark right now. I know she can, but I don’t know if she knows she can do that yet.”
Goodin says that Spinks, a longtime volleyballer playing golf for the first time, will play a big role in how the team’s younger players develop, despite being new to the game.
“She’s coming away from all she has ever known, and she’s coming out here and she’s putting in her time and effort,” Goodin says. “That’s a big transition, a difficult transition, but she’s getting better and I think the younger girls see her getting better too. It’s a good example for them.”
The coach knows that wins might be few and far between this season, but she’s excited about her team’s prospects and is eager to get the season started and see how they stack up.
“I just want them to be able to come out here and grow together,” she says. “They’re all friends, they all play other sports together, and I think this season will be a good stress reliever for them,” she says. “Golf can kind of give them a break from everything else they’re involved in. We’re having fun, learning the rules, learning the etiquette, and improving every day.”
This season marks Goodin’s first as the girls’ head coach, but she’s not new to the program or to coaching. She was a seven-year varsity player at ACHS, graduating in 2013, and later played golf at Campbellsville University. She has coaching experience both at CU and at Campbellsville High School.
“I’m excited to be back here and coaching Adair County,” she says.
The team’s roster and schedule is printed below:
Eliza Spinks – senior
Ashley Loy – seventh grade
Claire Loy – seventh grade
Allee Campbell – seventh grade
Ella Brown – sixth grade
Ila Loy – fifth grade
Aug. 5 V. CUMBERLAND COUNTY (Pines) 3 p.m.
Aug. 16 at Taylor County (Campbellsville Country Club) 4 p.m.
Aug. 19 V. BARREN COUNTY (Pines) 4 p.m.
Aug. 23 at Green County (Green County Country Club) 4 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Cumberland County (Dale Hollow) 4 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Barren County & Glasgow (Barren River) 4 p.m.
Sept. 9 V. RUSSELL COUNTY (Pines) 4 p.m.
Sept. 13 V. GREEN COUNTY (Pines) 4 p.m.
Home matches listed in all caps, course in parentheses, all times Central.