Lincoln golf team young, but talented
The Lincoln High girls golf team played host to Center at Turkey Creek Thursday to begin Pioneer Valley League competition.
Co-head coaches Jeff Foxworthy and Eric Souto have 13 athletes out for the team and are cautiously optimistic about the coming season and promising future. There are three seniors on the squad five sophomores, four freshmen and one junior.
“I’m excited for this year. I think once these girls get a few matches under their belts (they’ll feel) comfortable out here,” said Souto. “I’m just excited for the future of this team. Most of them are young and so for the next 3-4 years we’re just going to really get better.”
Playing in the No. 1 position is sophomore Tuesday Epperson. Epperson has mastered nearly every facet of her game and was reported to be shooting in the high 30s for nine holes wherever she plays.
“She’s improved 7-8 strokes per nine in just a year’s time,” Souto said of Epperson. “She is really stepping up as a leader.”
The coach said the sophomore has worked hard on her short game and can get up and down from virtually anywhere around the green.
“She’ll get up and down for pars so much more than she did last year. Her ability to make par; her ability to make 10-foot putts and her ability to chip it close has improved so much from last year,” said Souto. “She’s doing the right things to become an excellent golfer.”
Souto said the only part of Epperson’s game where she could improve is her approach shots, but she has the short game to make up what she might lack in that aspect of her play.
No. 2 on the team is Kaylee Hahn. The freshman comes in with some experience, having received instructions while in middle school.
Souto said Kahn can consistently hit the ball 220-yards off the tee and added that with some work she will regularly shoot in the 40s for nine holes.
No. 3 is another freshman, Chelsea Wilson. Like Hahn, she also received instructions in middle school.
Souto said Wilson is tenacious and works on different parts of her game. Once she knows what she has to do, she practices until it becomes natural to her.
“I think the nerves are just a little bit there, but she has a wonderful attitude,” Souto said about Wilson. “Her strength is her desire to be out here and her desire to get better.”
No. 4 is Skyler Raper. She is the third freshman on the Zebras’ starting six.
The coach said Raper is the team’s top athlete, although she has only limited experience at golf. Raper also plays soccer and is not shy in her approach to golf.
“(Raper) is strong and athletic. She hits the ball hard; she is not tentative when she swings,” said Souto. “For her it’s just going to be learning some of the finer points of the swing.”
With four years ahead of her, Souto said if Raper can learn to channel her strength she is destined to be good.
No. 5 is Ellie Ridgway, the only senior in the top six rotation. Ridgway joined the team last year and struggled to break 70. However, Souto said in 13 short months Ridgway was able to shoot a 51 for nine holes.
Souto said Ridgway’s advantage is her attitude.
“Her improvement has been outstanding. She loves to practice,” the coach said. “Another one of her strengths is her patience. She doesn’t get down on herself.”
No. 6 is Ellie Ridgway’s sister Lindsey Ridgway, the team’s only junior.
Lindsey joined the team as a freshman in spite of never having picked up a club before that. Souto said she went from shooting in the high 70s as a freshman to carding a 53 this year.
Souto said the junior can hit for distance and has the desire to master the game.
Souto also pointed out that spots in the starting six rotation are by no means fixed. He said the positions are filled by those willing to put in the work and it’s who turns in the best scores at the end of the day.
The Zebras played in a tournament Monday and was at Bear River Tuesday. Colfax comes to Turkey Creek GC Thursday for Lincoln’s third PVL match.