This year’s Russell County Lady Laker golf team is young, but head coach Melinda Wright thinks the program’s youth will translate to a strong future.
The team’s only high-school player is junior Madalyn Wright.
In addition to Wright, the team boasts two eighth-graders, Carleen Meyers and Karly Stapp; four seventh-graders, Catherine Wright, Carly Shearer, Addison Hopper, and Stella Thorpe; a fifth-grader, Porter Branscum; and a fourth-grader, Landri Ellis.
Madalyn Wright and Meyers are the only returning players with any varsity experience from a team that won the 2A state championship last season and were region runners-up.
With that inexperience, Coach Wright’s focus is on helping her players get better each day.
“I just want them to improve from the beginning to when we go to regions,” she said. “I want to see improvements in their games and in the team score.”
While players like to drive the ball off the tee “to see how far they can hit it,” Wright said a major emphasis for her young squad so far has been on chipping and putting.
“I like for the girls to be able to — once they’re on the green — to need no more than two putts. When you’re on the green, you ought to be able to get it within two feet or less on that first putt so you’ve got an easy tap-in. If you get really good at putting and chipping, you’re going to save so many strokes in your game.”
As of Wednesday, the team had competed in three tournaments this season.
In the first tournament at Old Bridge in Danville, the two competitors for the Lady Lakers were Madalyn Wright and Meyers.
Wright carded a 90, and Meyers scored a 110.
Afterwards, the team had three rounds of qualifiers to see who would compete in upcoming tournaments.
“For players that young to do a full tournament — which is 18 holes — that’s a lot for a middle-schooler,” Coach Wright said. “A lot of the players are so young and don’t have that experience yet, so we’ve got to build that up.”
The top four players from the three days of qualifiers were Madalyn Wright, Carleen Meyers, Carly Shearer, and Catherine Wright.
The team has competed in two tournaments this week so far. On Tuesday, the Lady Lakers traveled to the Campbellsville Country Club to play in the Cardinal Classic. In that event, Madalyn Wright qualified for the 2A State Tournament.
In addition, Meyers shot a 111, Catherine Wright carded a 115, and Shearer finished with a 130.
Coach Wright said the newcomers were nervous heading into tournament play but quickly acclimated to their new environment.
“I told them, ‘The first shot in the first tee box, you have all these people looking at you, but you just have to get off this first tee,’” she said. “’Then you’ll get more relaxed,’ and that’s just what they did.”
On Wednesday, the team traveled to Lexington to participate in the Henry Clay Invitational.
Madalyn Wright paced the team with a 97, followed by a score of 112 and 118 from Meyers and Catherine Wright, respectively. Shearer carded a 146 to round out the scoring.
The Lady Lakers are scheduled to take part in their first non-tournament match of the season with a match in Lincoln County today (Thursday, Aug. 4).
Coach Wright said all of her players who are at least in middle school will participate in this year’s matches, which are only nine holes.
Branscum’s and Ellis’ focus for the time being will be on getting a taste of high school golf through team practices.
Wright is in her fourth year as head coach.
The remaining schedule is shown below:
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