Lady Panther golfers ready to set standards
By LAUREN JETTE
The Lady Panther golf team is ready to hit the links for the spring season and continue to lay the groundwork for another successful program at Liberty Hill.
With a season-opening tournament Thursday at Lampasas, the Lady Panthers are aiming for a high finish at the district tournament in April.
“We just have a really fun group of girls, they have such different interests and abilities, so I’m excited to see their growth from the fall to the spring,” said first year coach Laura Brown.
“I’ve already seen what they’ve done from last year to this year what they’ve done on paper. It’s exciting to see how far they’ve come and I can’t wait to see what they do this year.”
The Lady Panthers will look familiar this season, with several returners in addition to freshmen Hannah Smith and Haley Frank.
Returners include senior Abi Harbour and sophomores Breanna Berzin, Arianna Rocha, Makenzey Turner and Bella Houser.
The team of seven competed in three tournaments during the fall season, and will have four tournaments before the district tournament in April.
Golf teams at Liberty Hill have a different practice schedule than most of the other golf teams in the district, Brown said.
“It’s a unique situation. We play against teams that have a course in their towns. Lampasas has a city course, Llano has a course, Burnet has a course, Salado has a course. Those kids have that nice luxury of going to a city course. Our kids, unfortunately, do not,” Brown said.
So it’s up to the players to make the time and effort to practice outside of Liberty Hill, after the time change cut out the once a week practice at Cimarron Hills.
“Now what I have them do is practice on their own, bring me a scorecard to show that they’ve been practicing. That’s kind of how we do golf,” Brown explained.
Crystal Falls golf course is available for Liberty Hill golfers’ practice, but for golfers who don’t drive yet, that can be a stretch to get to, Brown said.
“We have a very young girls team, so not all of them drive, so it’s an extra commitment to get a little bit further to Crystal Falls, but Crystal Falls does open up their course to us and they are more than willing to help us out by slashing fees and providing a place for them to practice on their own,” she said.
“It doesn’t hinder the girls. They still practice and compete,” Brown added.
Not having a home course to play and practice on, coupled with no golf class at the high school means Brown can’t teach students who are brand new to the sport.
“They kind of have to come to me knowing a little more about golf because it’s not like I can coach them into doing it,” Brown said.
“I think if we had a golf course in our backyard we would just really excel. Liberty Hill, we tend to excel at everything we do, so I think if that were the case, we would see a lot more people come out for it.”
While the Lady Panthers will compete as a team for the spring season, golf is an individual sport, which can be frustrating at times.
“You have to be passionate. You have to have that motivation to get up and practice the same skill over and over of hitting the ball. It’s not like you just go out there and play,” Brown said.
“And when you do go out there and play, you need to actually play and focus. It can be fun, but you have to be working on your game individually when there’s not someone there to guide and direct you.”
In spite of that, Brown said the players never get down on themselves, and compete until the last hole of a round.
“They are a young team. It’s a fun group of girls, they enjoy it and they don’t beat themselves up, which I think is really good, especially for they type of play they are having right now,” she said.
“They could really get self-defeated and they don’t. I have two beginners and here comes the 18th hole and they are smiling still. I think that shows a lot about their character and willingness to be there.”
Although Brown admits she is still learning the ropes in her first season as coach, she has expectations for her team, as is the standard for just about any competitive organization at Liberty Hill.
“I have two girls who would like to go to regionals and the potential is there, so those are their personal girls. I would like to see us come in the top three or four in district,” she said.
It will be quite a challenge for the Lady Panthers, as district opponents Lampasas and Salado are ranked teams, while Burnet will also have a strong team.
Liberty Hill will compete at tournaments at Burnet and Salado before the district tournament April 4 and 5. The first round will be held at Delaware Springs in Burnet, and the second round will be at Mill Creek in Salado.
It may seem an uphill battle, but Brown says her team knows what the expectations are and is ready to prove that girls golf is another Liberty Hill team to be reckoned with.
“It seems like the expectation is there. I think it’s possible because it’s just one of those things where the environment has to do with it, and they way you’re swinging that day,” Brown explained. “We’ve got some girls who want it and we have some talent there too, so it could be done.”