Medals have been earned, records have been broken and now there is just one thing left for both golfers to do - go win a state title.
It has been a pretty good year for two Lake area golfers.
One of them is Camdenton senior Amber Wilson who has made the most of her final season with the Lakers thus far after winning 10 out of 11 events in 2017 that include a second straight Ozark Conference title, a third straight district championship and a fourth straight All-Conference and All-District selection.
The other is Eldon freshman Kassidy Hull who has made a lot of noise early in her career and turned some heads by winning nine medals in 9-hole matches, winning a tournament title and setting the school record for the lowest 9-hole and 18-hole scores in program history while helping to set the school record for lowest team score.
Medals have been earned, records have been broken and now there is just one thing left for both golfers to do- go win a state title.
Wilson has a pretty good idea of what it will take to earn the top prize in the state of Missouri as she makes her third straight trip to the final show of the year. She has made All-State two years in a row by placing in the top 15 and her best finish so far has been 14th. The senior said practice is always key with the sport, but it also requires a lot of mental strength.
“The thing with golf is that practice does not make perfect, it just makes better so it is not like other sports really,” Wilson pointed out. “You just have to keep focus the whole time because golf is a big mental game. It is not exactly what you do, but what is going on in your head that really matters.”
And Wilson has accumulated plenty of experience over the years too. She was introduced to the game at an early age by her father Robert who is a PGA Golf Professional in the Lake area and she said the sport just kind of runs in the family.
“You grow up, you play golf and that is basically it,” Wilson said with a smile. “As soon as I started playing, I just fell in love with it. I like it because it is independent and not like a team sport where it can be someone else’s fault if you lose. It is all on you and the competition is a lot of fun for me because I am a very competitive person and it is just you against someone else.”
That competitiveness drove Wilson to spend plenty of time on the links in the offseason where she participated in some major events, among others, during the summer.
In June, she participated in the 49th Junior Girls' 4-State Team Championship in Wichita, Kan., along with senior teammate Jennah Schell and three others who represented Missouri against Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Wilson was also invited to the Girls’ Junior PGA Championship at the Country Club of St. Albans Lewis and Clark Course this past July in St. Albans, Mo., where she took on golfers from around the United States and other countries. Last but not least, she took a trip down south before school started in August to represent her state once again to face Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama with five other Missourians in the 2017 Southern States Junior Cup at the Country Club of Oxford in Oxford, Ms.
“St. Albans was incredible and really fun and sadly I did not make the cut, but it was just great competition. I played in Four-State and I played down in Mississippi against some Alabama commits (University of Alabama), which was tough,” Wilson said of her summer tour. “At the end of the day, even if you lose, it just makes you a lot better.”
Camdenton coach Jane Eidson can attest to that improvement and noted how much fun it has been to watch the young golfer progress each time she sets foot on the fairways. Wilson’s best 9-hole score so far in 2017 is 33 and her best 18-hole round is 67.
“She has been great to watch grow from a freshman, who was kind of shy, but a good player into growing more and more confident all the time,” the coach remarked. “She has played a lot of tournaments and a lot of offseason golf and I think that has really helped her come along and gain confidence in herself and her game.”
Another thing the coach has enjoyed is seeing the leadership Wilson displays. All five Lakers will be competing for a team state title for the second time in three years after finishing second in sectionals at Marshfield last Monday, and it may be due in part to the impact the senior has had on her teammates.
“She is a great leader and she sets a good example with her work ethic in how much she plays and how hard she works on her game,” Eidson stated. “She includes all the girls in everything and she is a great person for the girls to play with because it does not matter to her what their ability is. She is always nice, but a good example of how you play good golf.”
It is that work ethic that Eidson would want future golfers to know about as well.
“I would want them to learn that it does not come easy, but with work and getting out there and playing a lot, you can be really good and a lot of good things can come from it,” Eidson said of Wilson’s example.
Wilson’s career at Camdenton may be coming to an end, but it will continue next year in the college ranks as the senior is currently committed to teeing off for the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She certainly would not mind beginning that next chapter with a state title though and will look to do just that at the only place she has finished second this year- Sedalia Country Club.
“Coming into senior year I was really excited to try and win as much as I possibly could and I’ve done pretty good so far,” the senior noted. “I’m looking forward to state and hopefully coming out with a state title.”
The Lakers will take their swings on Monday and Tuesday for the Class 2 State Title in Sedalia.
Hull began playing the game of golf at an early age and remembers one of her earliest tournaments at Eldon Golf Club where she finished last among the other 9 year-olds. Her mother pointed out that she got a third place trophy, but Hull was nowhere near satisfied.
“That made me want to do more tournaments and keep trying hard in golf,” Hull recalled.
And it has clearly paid off as the young freshman will soon be representing the Mustangs in the Class 1 State Tournament at Columbia Country Club in Columbia on Monday and Tuesday after finishing third in sectionals at the same place where she also finished third at the age of nine- her home course in Eldon.
“It has been a joy to coach Kassidy. I’ve coached her team or either part of a team she has played on since she was little so it is really nice to see how she has grown,” Eldon coach Matt Frey said. “I was really excited for her to get up to the high school level because I knew she could compete with most of the girls. Throughout the years, she has just continued to get better and better and I have seen her confidence grow. When she first started the season, she just wanted to place and now she is looking at winning everything she plays, which is really good to see in a freshman.
“She used to get down on herself is she had a bad hole or maybe did not play her best nine holes. But now, it is more, ‘I want to get better. I’m going to grind and go to the range after my match.’ She is really working hard to be as good as she is,” he added.
Hull etched her name into the Mustang record books this year with the best 9-hole round in program history after putting up a 34 and the best 18-hole round for the Mustangs at Eldon Country Club after shooting a 76. Along the way, she also helped set the school record for team score with a 392. While Frey was certainly pleased with Hull’s performance on the links, he was equally as pleased with her character throughout this season and he is hoping the golfer’s success may help bring out more Mustangs to the sport.
“She is such a good kid and she is very humble. A lot of stuff goes into the newspaper about Kassidy’s success, but she really tries to pick up the other girls and she always wants to tell them they are still part of a team,” he stated. “She is always cheering on the other girls so that is nice, but I think with her success it will hopefully bring more girls out to want to try to play girls’ golf because it is still a growing sport in high school. Hopefully her success is going to shine through and a lot of other girls may want to try to play.”
Hull has learned quite a bit during her rookie campaign and there has been no major secret to her success, just a constant desire to improve.
“I was really excited knowing I would be able to practice a lot more and I was really hoping to get a lot better. I am not used to playing during the fall so getting to play two seasons in a row (summer and fall) has really helped me improve a lot,” Hull remarked.
“I just try to take what I’ve learned, focus and apply what I know… I’ve scored much better than I ever have before and it has really kind of made me feel by the time I’m a senior, I can hopefully do even better and it has got me really excited,” she added. “I hope to practice and play even more than I have in past years, get better and maybe take home a state championship.”
As long as the young freshman maintains that work ethic, Frey said the sky is the limit.
“This year the girls she is competing with in these tournaments that she finishes in the top five with are a lot of seniors so I seriously see a lot of success in her future. I would love to see her win a state championship or even make a run at one and I definitely don’t see any problems in her getting there,” the coach pointed out. “As long as she continues to fuel the drive and wants to get better, I see a bright future for her even through high school and into college.”
Winning a state title would certainly be a great start down that path.