TELL CITY – As Amber Wheatley begins her fifth season leading the Tell City girls golf team, she does so without a senior on the roster.
For Wheatley, it creates stability.
“It means that I have a team next year,” she said. “Which sometimes is an issue.”
The Marksmen have three veteran golfers this fall, led by sophomore Taylor Goffinet.
“Taylor is returning from last year, so I expect her to be No. 1 starting out, for sure,” Wheatley said. “Her chipping is usually really good, which if you have bad chipping, you typically rack up several strokes that you shouldn’t.
“Her driving is becoming more consistent too.”
Another sophomore, Mollie Arnold, played volleyball last year but will double up on fall sports this season and she has previous experience playing in junior high.
“I think she’ll be one of the top ones as well,” Wheatley said.
Junior Kenzie Burgess is another returning player for Tell City and Wheatley also expects positive contributions from junior Cloey Pledger.
There are three newcomers in sophomore Hannah Rhodes and freshmen Hannah Gray and Maggie Lamb. For them, Wheatley said managing nerves will be important early on in the season.
“Some of them are brand new, so most of it is calming nerves more than anything,” she said. “Only three of the seven girls have played matches before, the rest haven’t.”
One big focus point early in practice was a general understanding of the rules.
“They’re more concerned about the rules of golf and things like that when it comes to a match,” Wheatley said. “During matches, we can’t be with everyone. They have to have some idea how to do everything.”
A bright spot for Wheatley is the attitude displayed by her team so far in practice rounds.
“Right now we all have positive attitudes, which is hard to come by because it really is a discouraging sport when you keep having miss-hits,” she said. “We are trying to make decent contact with the ball.
“A lot of the shots are going straight across the ground and not in the air, so our first priority is to get the ball up in the air a little bit more instead of straight across the ground.”
As the season progress, Wheatley would like to see more of her players shoot under the stroke limit imposed in matches.
“We have stroke limits individually, so I would like everyone to have one or two matches where they don’t have to pick up any hole,” Wheatley said. “That would lift their spirits even more.”
Wheatley admits the past couple seasons for Tell City haven’t been the best, but she believes her team is starting to turn the corner and she hopes it will lead to better results.
“Typically, we fall at the bottom, but I’m hoping with some of the talent I’ve seen, we can rise a couple spots. That would be nice,” she said. “If Taylor can improve, I would like to see her close to qualifying for a regional.
“Even if she’s close, it could set her up nice for a junior and senior year.”
Tell City opens the season today at Hoosier Heights Country Club against Bosse at 4:30 p.m.