It was the first time in 10 years the Mason County girls’ golf team failed to make the state tournament, but with a roster filled with underclassmen and middle schoolers, it was expected.
Now with 2017 behind them, the Lady Royals are aiming to get back where they want to be…in Bowling Green early October.
Jason Butler will be guiding them, named the Lady Royals coach in March after being an assistant with the team last season.
“It was a tremendous help developing relationships with the kids, getting to know their tendencies,” Butler said of being an assistant last year. “I didn’t have the opportunity to practice with them and see what they brought, I just learned in match play. It was beneficial for me and the kids because we’ve already hit the ground running in practices.”
The team returns four of their top five golfers from a season ago and have a trio in Charity Arn, Haley White and Macie Littleton that will all be in the mix for the top scoring individual in tourneys and match play throughout the season. Abby Allison returns for her second year with the team and seventh grader Morgan Parker is the newcomer to round out the roster.
Arn and White, now juniors, are now looked upon as veterans and leaders of the team, having a couple of years of varsity play under their belt.
“We’re looking for those two to work with the younger girls on the team. They’ve done a great job with that in practice,” Butler said. “These younger girls look up to them and in most cases they’ll strive to be like them some day. Developing those good habits on or off the course is important.”
Arn was the top scorer for the Lady Royals in the 8th Region tournament last season, just missing out on qualifying for state as an individual. Having been to state before with the team, Arn is aware of what it will take to get there.
“Our expectation of her is to get back to state tournament,” Butler said.
He feels the same way about White and Littleton, believing all three can post a low enough score to qualify.
“All three have been really close early on in terms of scoring in rounds in practice,” Butler said.
Littleton, an eighth grader competing with the two juniors, shows the potential she has for the future.
“As she matures and gets stronger, she has a bright future in the game of golf. She hits it well off the tee, her iron play is consistent, just needs some work on her putter,” Butler said.
Allison has shown vast improvement from a season ago and Butler feels she’s the most improved golfer from one year to the next. Parker is a seventh-grader and Butler is excited for her future with a lot of potential.
The Lady Royals will be gunning for Scott County and George Rogers Clark in the 8th Region. Those two finished 1-2 in the region last year, respectively. With a fourth-place finish as a team in last year’s region tourney, Butler is aiming for at least a top three finish, working on certain areas of the game with the girls to ensure that.
“Off the tee we were pretty good I thought, in-between is where we needed to hone in on some things we struggled with, short iron play, working at not three-putting. The big thing I’m stressing is working less than three putts once we get there. We’ve spent a lot of time at the driving range and the putting green. Being with them last year allowed me to see what areas to work on,” Butler said. “We need more consistency in rounds from match to match. We have more matches this year. We’ll be out on the course more this year. Golf is so mental, endurance and conditioning effects golf games. We’re looking for that to be sharper with hopes to be ready come tourney time.”
The Lady Royals will get their start to the 2018 season on Tuesday at the Grant County Invitational. They’ll play in two more tournaments prior to eight match play rounds with various schools that include Montgomery County, Bourbon County, Pendleton County and Nicholas County before closing out the regular season with the Rowan County Invitational on September 22.