The four seniors on the Scotland varsity girl’s golf team have developed a bond over the years that extends beyond the golf course.
And though the sport of golf hinges on the performance of the individual, the close-knit atmosphere surrounding this Fighting Scots team has them confident that 2012 could be their best season ever.
“We’ve all become good friends, and this team is more like family than anything else,” said senior Alison Critcher, who joins Gabby Gualtieri, Kaylan Ganus and Caitlin McCormick as the senior leaders on the Fighting Scots’ golf team. “We’ve become better golfers because we motivate and compete against each other and also lift each other up when we have a bad day on the course.”
“This team has improved year after year,” McCormick said. “And since this is our last season, our goals have been set higher than they ever have been before.”
Entering his fourth year coaching the team, Gary Barfield share his team’s optimism and feels especially confident when reflecting on their performance over the past two seasons. In 2011, The Fighting Scots finished second place in the conference behind Pinecrest (as they did in 2010) and have returned nearly all of their top players, save for Cassie Barringer who graduated in May.
“This is the best team I’ve had since I started coaching here,” Barfield said. “We definitely have room for improvement, but our scores will get better over the course of the season because every player on the team is committed to working hard.”
While Barringer has since departed, younger sister Ashley has stepped up in her absence and posted the best scores on the team thus far in the early season. Through the first three matches of the season (at Pinehurst No. 5, Bayonet and Pinecrest County Club), the younger Barringer (currently a junior at SHS) has shot an 87, 91 and 85, with all three tallies setting the pace for her teammates. Though she participated in two of the three matches to start the season, McCormick has impressed early on as well with scores of 90 (Pinehurst No. 5) and 89 (Pinecrest CC).
But so far this season, Pinecrest has once again established its dominance, winning all three matches by a fairly wide margin. The Patriots are led by Gabby Weiss and Savannah Thompson, who have shot consistently in the mid-to-low 70’s thus far this season. At Pinehurst No. 5, Weiss shot a 68 and followed that with a 70 at Bayonet.
“Pinecrest is a really strong team and one of the top contenders in the state like always,” Barfield said. “They’re currently heads and tails above everyone in the conference. With that said, this team can’t worry about what Pinecrest shoots, we have to worry about lowering our scores and getting more consistent. We’re not playing our best golf yet, but I have no doubt that we will soon enough.”
While Pinecrest has set the tone in the early goings, the Fighting Scots have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack as well. Next to the Patriots, Scotland has been the only team to shoot below 400 as a collective this season, posting team scores of 368, 371 and 366 through the first three matches, good for second in the conference. In addition to Barringer and McCormick, Ganus has also shot consistently well (91, 92 and 95) as well as Gualtieri (102, 92, 97) and Critcher (100, 95, 99). In a scheduled match, up to six girls will compete with the top four scores from each team tallied for the final results.
As their scores improve, so does Scotland’s chances of accomplishing their ultimate goal this season. For Barfield, it starts with building a strong enough team to stage an impressive showing at regionals (a school can qualify up to five players for a team). From there, Barfield would like to see at least three of his players make it to state. Barfield has only had one player throughout his tenure as head coach compete at the state level: Ashley Barringer qualifed last year as a sophomore.
“I think we can make it to state as a team this year,” Gualtieri said. “It’s our goal, and I think we can make it happen.”
The Fighting Scots varsity girl’s golf team will host the next meet on their schedule October 1st at Scoth Meadows Country Club.