Some of the faces are new, some are not. It is the latter of the two that Perry girls golf coach Joel Happel hopes can lead a revamped Perry roster to greater success this season.
“It is nice to see a bigger group come out this year,” he said. “Some girls are not out here this year, but three who played last year are back and we will rely on them to lead us.”
Returning for the Jayettes are junior Sarah Sweet, with sophomores Skylar Cunningham and Hannah Roberts also back on the course for PHS.
“There is no way to substitute for experience, and those girls played a lot of golf for us last year and I think all three benefited,” Happel said. “One area that I expect to see improvement in is consistency, which was something we struggled with last year.”
Happel said having a larger group from which to chose his six varsity players will also be a bonus, as teams can play six but count only the four lowest scores.
“Last year’s low numbers created a situation where, if you of the top girls had a bad day, we were forced to count her score,” he explained. “We should have a little more flexibility this time around.”
While the early practices are often centered around driving the ball, Happel said it was within 50 yards of the green — and on the putting surface itself — where scores are decided.
“That is sometimes a hard message to get across, especially to golfers without a lot of experience,” he remarked. “Everyone wants to get up there and whack it, but if you do not develop touch on the green and distance control chipping the ball your score will shoot up, so we are trying to spend quite a bit of time on the practice green.”
Happel said he expected Brooke Huntington and Ellie Nielsen to compete for varsity spots, with any number of players also in the running for a top-six slot. Madyson Hill, Rebecca Dobson, Delaney Eiteman, Hannah Sackett, Cristal Ruiz, Jamileth Sarceno and Fatima Hurtado are all also out for the team.
“You never know,” Happel said of his possible varsity lineup. “Some of the newer girls are showing some promise, so I would not say anything is 100 percent set. That is the thing about golf — the numbers are going to tell you all you need to know.”
Perry begins play Tuesday when they host Ballard and Norwalk at the Perry Golf and Country Club at 4 p.m. The Jayettes will join Des Moines Christian for a triangular at Greene County Thursday at 4 p.m. with the Perry girls to host the Jayette Invitational Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m.