Miners girls golf vying for Region 11 title
The Park City High School Miners girls golf team is small — just eight players. But so far it has managed to remain dominant in its region, after moving up from Region 10 in Class 3A to Region 11 in Class 4A this season.
The team has “lost” just one tournament, when it came in second to Stansbury, its rival in Region 11 which the Miners lead by a slim, 14-stroke margin. The next opponent is so far behind that coach George Murphy couldn’t recall who it was of the top of his head during a recent practice. Junior Mackenzie Schow, who has the second lowest season-long score in Region 11, thought it might be Tooele, but it doesn’t really matter, because whoever it is, Murphy said, is about 150 strokes behind (The Utah High School Activities Association doesn’t post information about girls golf during regular season).
The team is shooting for the state title, as it does every year, but that goal has often been just out of reach.
“For three years in a row, we’ve gone second, second, second at state,” Murphy said. “We’ve come up just short every year. And we’re trying to pull through this time, but the depth is going to hurt us a little bit.”
The team essentially has to lean on five players: Schow, junior Grace Donahue, freshman Josie Marshall and seniors Sage Roberts and Claire Palmer.
“It puts a little more pressure on them individually,” Murphy said. “If more than one has a bad game, we’re in trouble, especially at state.”
On Monday, the team warmed up on the putting green at Park City Municipal Golf Course, then walked to the back nine to start its practice in earnest.
On the way, Schow said the team has been doing well, and that it showed its mettle in a recent tournament against Juan Diego when it came back after struggling through the first nine holes.
“At first it was rough, then we just pulled together,” she said, adding that responding to adversity a feature of the team.
Though it was sunny out and the grass was green, Schow and her teammates teed off in blowing snow, which gave Donahue some trouble. The Region 11 leader’s drive landed on the edge of the fairway.
“This season’s been better than the last few,” she said about the weather. “But occasionally you’ll get these cold days, and you just have to tough it out.”
She said the weather at all of this year’s tournaments has been fairly mild, which is a relief after last season, when the team faced hail during the state tournament at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem.
This year, the state championship tournament is down in St. George, where the team practiced several weeks ago.
“It’s supposed to be pretty warm,” Donahue said as she approached her ball. “My dad said it could get close to 100, which will be a change for us.”
Donahue said the tightly contested race with Stansbury has helped the team prepare for St. George, toughening the Miners up before facing teams that play through southern Utah’s warm winters.
“Sometimes, when we play teams that aren’t as competitive, it’s hard for us to play at that level,” she said.
Donahue also sees a silver lining in the team’s size. She said the small team has come together well, and lacks some of the drama that can accompany a larger squad.
“This year everyone is there for each other,” she said. “Which is really fun to be around.”
Donahue said the team has the talent to break tradition from the second-place streak and win the state championship, but it will take a few things coming together.
“We just have to have four good scores that day, and hope that the weather isn’t too bad for us, because we aren’t used to playing in the heat,” she said, squinting through the snow.
The girls will likely have to beat Desert Hills, which Murphy said has won the state title six consecutive times.
“They have a really good team,” Donahue said. “But if we play well we can compete with them.”
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Park City’s season ends with a 10-9 loss to Olympus in the state title game, the Miners’ first of the season.