Carley Meyer, a sophomore golfer at Troy Buchanan High School, made it through Districts, into Sectionals, just missing out on the state tournament, the season ending as a big positive for her and her team.
“I feel like I did pretty good,” Meyer said. “I just tried to keep a clear mind and if I got frustrated, just get through it.”
Meyer started playing golf at a young age, around fifth grade, after a little provocation from her mom.
“My mom said it’s a good sport. So I went to the camps when I was younger and I liked it,” Meyer said.
There’s the mental fortitude and personal drive to constantly improve, but Meyer says her favorite part about golf has less to do with the competition.
“I like being outside. I like being outdoors,” Meyer said.
Troy girls’ golf coach Sarah Howell pointed out that not just Meyer, but the team as a whole, showed big improvements over the course of the season.
“Looking at the beginning of the season and then looking at how we ended, we made huge gains. At the beginning we were a little shaky, just trying to figure out how to manage the course, any course we were on,” Howell said.
By manage the course, Howell means that mental aspect the game is notorious for – a part of the game her players showed big improvement in.
“Being able to, if you have a hole that didn’t go maybe the way you’d planned, letting go of it and moving forward,” Howell said.
She said that last year, it was an uphill battle all season with her players dropping their heads as soon as they hit a bad shot or had a bad hole.
“Emotionally, we struggled. We got stuck in that mode. But this year, if we were stuck somewhere, the girls got out and we didn’t turn it into an eight, we turned it into a bogey. So that was impressive to watch,” Howell said.
Coaching wise, Howell seems to have a good method of helping the players get into that right mindset to keep competing after a little mistake. Her trick? Change the subject.
“Every girl is different so you have to learn to talk to every person. Some girls I’m a little harder on than other girls because some can handle it and some just emotionally take it as ‘I am so mad at them.’ It’s really just talking to them about something other than golf. So if I am with them, a lot of times we are talking about something else. Once I get them back on track, they’re good. It’s just getting their mind off of what they are doing,” Howell said.
And one of the players that she can be a little more direct with is Meyer, who Howell described as “cool as a cucumber.” Meyer said that calm, cool and collected attitude on the golf course comes from her experience playing other sports such as basketball and volleyball.
“She’s a little bit of both. She’ll say ‘lets talk about something else, lets talk about something different,’ and then sometimes I can tell her ‘this is what you need to do; you need to get it done.’ I know at District a couple times I had to say, ‘all you need to do is this and that will get you there.’ It’s just about learning which girls can handle, not necessarily the pressure, but with some girls, if you overload them with how to think on the golf course, it is over,” Howell said.
Howell said that that overthinking comes from a good place: her players wanting so badly to do well.
But this past season, those instances of overthinking were at a minimum and the team came out with a positive record.
“By the end of the season, every girl shot their lowest round. So that was an exciting thing: they all reached their goal of breaking their lowest round,” Howell said. She said that the fact that they had a lot of girls that broke 50 for the first time, had two players that medaled in a match and had a winning record on the season were important.
“That was a big deal: being over 500 for the season. And not just by a little, by a lot. Watching them compete and watching their mindset change from last year to this year, we grew mentally and that’s a big part of golf,” Howell said.
Isabel Holland echoed Howell and Meyer about the overall team trajectory this season.
“I think we all improved a lot from last year,” Holland said. Holland said that her and her teammates made their short game a focal point of improvement, and improvement they saw.
Meyer, only a sophomore, has big expectations for not only herself but also her entire team.
“I want all of our varsity team to go to sectionals as a team, instead of just individuals,” Meyer said. “We would have to lower our scores but we just have to work over the summer and the spring before the season.” Howell has big expectations as well, as she should following her team’s improvement.
“Next year, I want to be at state,” Howell said. “It’s been a while since a Troy girl has been to State. There for a while, we were going every year and then we kind of had a slump so I’d like to get back to State.” Howell and Meyer agree that it isn’t crazy to think those high expectations are outside of the realm of possibility, either.
“Talking at sectionals, the two of us, it’s doable that we can get more. We could get four people for sure to Sectionals next year,” Howell said.
She pointed out that two players missed it this season by only one stroke.
“It’s doable but we have to work at it when it’s not golf season,” Howell said.