BAYOU GEORGE — Golf by nature is a game of numbers.
Unlike other sports, the key in golf is to have a low score, of course. But numbers are important in other ways as well, especially when qualifying for team points. Four scores are needed for an official team score and at many times in the past, and on Wednesday, it has been a chore for Bay County girls teams to achieve the measure.
Three schools, Arnold, Bay and Rutherford, had enough golfers to amass team points in the Bay County Championship played at Bay Dunes Golf Course. Arnold shot a 424 for the team title, while sophomore Lindsey Harrison had the low number, an 83, for the Marlins and for the tournament to net county titlist honors for the second straight year.
Rutherford was second with a 450 behind Bailey Garner’s 97, which was the second and final tally less than 100. Bay was third at 537, but the Tornadoes’ finish was more impressive considering this is the first season the school has fielded a complete girls golf team. Mosley had five golfers, but two were disqualified for missing the tournament’s 8 a.m. tee time and the Dolphins were unable to place as a team.
Arnold, Bay and Rutherford each had five golfers. Hannah King, who shot a 134, was North Bay Haven’s lone representative.
Arnold fields a team of eight golfers, three of which play on a “junior varsity” schedule. Mosley and Rutherford have routinely had enough golfers for team points over the past decade, but even their numbers pale when compared to the boys.
Some county boys teams could field two squads and there isn’t a shortage of golfers. Rutherford girls coach Mike Nethero said boys’ teams have little competition, save football, in taking away athletes. Volleyball and cheerleading are top competitors for female athletes in the fall.
“A lot of your athletic girls are cheerleaders, we lose a lot of potential golfers I think,” Nethero said. “You have 14-20 cheerleaders on a team, then you have junior varsity, plus you have cross country in the fall.”
Nethero said golf also isn’t an inexpensive sport. Neither is cheerleading, but the time consumed by a round of golf, more than two hours for a nine-hole match and twice as long or longer if you’re competing in a larger 18-hole, isn’t attractive.
Nethero noted many missed school days due to golf, like on Wednesday, but said the majority of his team and others are made up of IB program participants that are used to having to do schoolwork at an accelerated pace.
Arnold coach Jean West lamented a lack of numbers on the middle school level that stunts the pace of other golfers. There is no middle school golf programs nor will there likely ever be in Bay County and West said that would help increase golf participation among females.
“You’d have a lot more golfers if they could start in middle school and compete,” West said. “At state, you see sixth-graders playing at a high level.”
West credited Arnold’s strong program and assistant coach Liz Kasey as helping the Marlins keep a healthy stable. Kasey played at Bay and on the collegiate level and is an LPGA Teaching Club Professional at Holiday Golf Club, which is Arnold’s home course.
“She does a really good job with the team,” West said. “Having that also helps bring them in.”
Arnold features a team of mostly seasoned golfers. Bay coach Conrad Moon, who also leads the boys, was thankful to field the Tornadoes’ first full team, but five of the six never played golf until this season. Moon said he was pleased with the team’s progress, however, and when asked what he did to entice membership he simply said “I advertised in the school.”
Mary Higby and Lilly Mulligan turned in 131s to lead Bay. A Bay parent asked Moon where the team finished. Moon said third to which the parent exclaimed “not bad.”
“We’ve never had a team,” he said. “So finishing third is pretty danged good.”
Katie Daniel carded a 128 to lead Mosley. The Dolphins and the other county teams will compete in district tournaments on Tuesday. That’s when the numbers dwindle further by elimination heading into the regional round and beyond.
Bay County Championship results:
- Arnold 424, Rutherford 450, Bay 537
- Arnold: Harrison 83, Matthews 110, Camacho 114, Cooley 117; Rutherford: Garner 97, Hyland 100, Henry 123, Payton 130, Lloyd 130; Bay: Higby 131, Mulligan 131, Jung 133, Ramarras 142, Marler 143; Mosley: Daniel 128, Austil 131, Chisholm 137; North Bay Haven: King 134
Arnold 3, Choctawhatchee 0
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Madi Wichterman had eight kills, seven service points, four blocks, three digs and one ace to lead Arnold past Choctawhatchee 25-22, 25-19, 25-19. Sam Brooks had nine kills, nine digs, nine points and two aces, Emma Moskowitz nine kills, six points, one block and one dig, Sarah Robertson seven points, six kills, six digs and one block, Alex Dyer 27 assists, nine points and two digs, JoJo Booker two digs, two blocks and one kill and Taylor Wilson 10 digs, six points and one ace for the Marlins (15-5), who host Sneads today. Arnold won the JV match 15-25, 25-18, 15-7.