Girls golf will face a massive overhaul as the Panthers begin the chase for a seventh-straight state appearance after finishing seventh at state last season.
Senior Chloe Johnson and junior Katy Johnson will be aiming to lead the golf squad. Sophomore Hannah Minnis will likely join the top squad after spending some time at the junior varsity and varsity levels.
Experience will be the biggest loss for Tim Herrs heading into 2021. The Panthers lost six seniors from last season, including team leaders Macey Truitt and Abbey Simonsen.
“The biggest loss is the experience,” Herrs said. “Anyone that you are bringing in won’t have the same experience as the girls that graduated.”
The duo of Johnson and Johnson will be taking a shot at leading the team to a state appearance. According to Herrs, the biggest improvement he has seen from the duo was not letting a bad shot or round affect the rest of the tournament, an ability that he wants his squad to maintain.
After battling some inconsistencies in the last two seasons, Chloe finished the season with solid rounds to build some good confidence for the next season.
“Chloe has a lot of potential; she has a good swing but has battled major inconsistencies,” Herrs said. “Her last round at state was probably the best round of her career.”
Katy showed the ability to move on to the next round after struggling at the state tournament, which was a big jump in her golf maturity.
“She started to play well at the end of the year and struggled at state but bounced back and improved in her second round,” Herrs said. “Early in her career, that bad round would affect her, but she let it go and played much better the next day.”
The expectations remain the same for the top golfers, and then the evaluation process begins to see if the team can make a push to qualify for state.
“With the experienced golfers, I expect them to be competing for the qualification for state,” Herrs said. “Once you get into more tournaments and see where everyone else is at and where your regional is, then you can tell if qualifying your team is a possibility.”
There is a greater emphasis on improving as an individual throughout the season.
“The biggest thing I want to see is them getting better as individuals,” Herrs said. “Therefore the team gets better as we go along,” Herrs said.
One benefit for the Panthers is that the opening invitational will be played on home soil at the Derby Country Club, the squad’s practice site.
“I like it a lot,” Herrs said. “I don’t know if the girls necessarily like it, but it is nice because you have only had a couple of weeks of practices; they might not be in the swing of things that they do later, so it is nice to have the familiarity of the course.”
The Derby Invitational is slated for Aug. 30.