Swinging into action: Girls drive golf team toward successful season

They look down the green with narrowed eyes to block out the sun’s glare. After adjusting the clubs in their hands, they mentally calculate the distance and the amount of force they must swing to get a tiny ball over 300 yards across a field while avoiding water hazards, sand traps, and trees while taking into account the wind. Becoming more confident, they swing, and the balls fly away through the air. For sophomore Skye Faldyn and senior Ellie Conrad, this has become natural.

“I started playing golf as a way for me and my dad to bond because I didn’t play football or baseball like my brothers,” Ellie said. “Golf was something we could do together.”

However, it wasn’t until high school that Ellie became serious about golf. When an injury prevented her from continuing in softball, she decided to join the golf team.

“I stopped playing softball because I hurt my rotator cuff and I couldn’t throw,” Ellie said. “I started playing golf instead, and it took off from there.”

Skye had no experience in golf, but she was willing to give it a shot. Like Ellie, her father also got her into the sport.

“My dad wanted me to play golf because he thought it would be a good experience,” Skye said. “It definitely has been.”

Skye is now deeply absorbed in the game and loves the things that the sport brings.

“I enjoy the family atmosphere golf gives,” Skye said. “I also enjoy learning a sport that you can play forever.”

Since the beginning of her freshman year, Skye’s willingness and enthusiasm has helped her improve in golf.

“When Skye started playing last year, she had very little knowledge of golf but was eager to learn,” golf coach Timothy Pepper said. “Throughout the year, she absorbed as much information as I threw at her, and by the end of the year, she competed in the varsity district tournament.”

Skye was very close to moving on to regionals but fell a few strokes shy. Ellie was able to move on to regionals, a first for girl’s golf in a long time.

“The way Ellie held herself during the tournament and her overall attitude was amazing,” Pepper said. “For someone who had never been to the regional golf tournament before, she sure didn’t act like it was her first time. She played with the confidence and determination that I had seen all year long.”

Ellie has not only succeeded on the tournament level, but also in recreational games.

“In a game with my dad, after five or six holes, we were tied,” Ellie said. “It was a proud moment for him, and it made me feel special and gave me a lot of encouragement.”

Skye looks up to Ellie as a role model and respects her for all she brings to the team, not only in the physical game, but in the mental aspects as well.

“She gives such great emotional support and is always there for me,” Skye said. “Ellie always knows if something is wrong and will always try to help.”

Ellie has also grown close to Skye and treasures the friendship they have developed through golf.

“Last year, it was me and Skye against eight or nine guys,” Ellie said “We kind of felt like it was us against the world, and we bonded over that. We are super close friends now, and I attribute that to us being on the team together. We probably would have never been friends outside of golf, and so the fact that we are so close now is really awesome.”

Pepper loves to see the girls push beyond their boundaries and do things they never believed they could.

“Last year, Skye was playing at Star Ranch in Hutto,” Pepper said. “I remember talking to her about the hole and what distance she needed to hit the ball to get on the green. Skye hit one of the best shots I have ever seen her hit. As she turned to me to say ‘did you see that,’ her face was filled with pure joy and exuberance from what she just accomplished.”

Neither girl wants to play golf in college or professionally, but they definitely want to continue playing recreationally and Ellie sees it as a way to help her future career.

“I want to be in politics and diplomacy, and so being able to play golf is useful,” Ellie said. “You’re out there with someone for four hours, so being able to meet with executives and campaign donors by playing golf is something I’ve thought about.”

There are not a whole lot of people playing golf in the Brazos Valley, particularly girls, and Ellie attributes this to the climate in the area and the patience the sport requires.

“Girls just don’t want to play golf because it’s hot outside and there’s a lot of patience that goes into it,” Ellie said. “Even in our area, there aren’t a lot of guys who play golf because it’s not something that is easy to master. Most focus on baseball or football.”

If anyone wants to join the golf team, they can go to Timothy Pepper’s classroom 5219 on Blue Campus during the day. Golf is a year-round sport, and the district tournament takes place in late March to early April.