Reflect. Ruminate. Relax.

It’s often hard for athletes to do, especially during the stretch Twin Lakes’ girls golf team had last week. The Indians played five invitationals from Aug. 5 through Saturday, concluding with their home Twin Lakes Invitational on Saturday at Tippecanoe Country Club.

Each day of competition — with a Wednesday practice thrown in for good measure — featured temperatures in at least the low 80s, and little relent from the sun that accompanied every three to five-hour walk over a course. It formed an interesting contrast, as one might expect. Players were not necessarily happy when shots went awry or scores came in higher than one would hope, but reflection on the week was an attempt to stay true to advice head coach Lacey Biczo asked her players to heed.

“We’ve struggled at times with little things here and there, but it’s going to come together,” Biczo said prior to Saturday’s round, where Twin Lakes placed seventh (401) and was two strokes off breaking 400. “One day they’re chipping poorly, the next day their drives aren’t going the way they want. But it’s going to come together — it’s the first week of the season, and we’ve got so much potential.

“They’re working hard at practices, and I see it coming together pretty soon. I know they’re worried about it, but that’s golf. It will get better.”

Biczo’s four seniors echoed that sentiment prior to walking their home course for the first of seven scheduled matches.

“We all understand in the end, it’s going to fall into place,” Macie Rothrock said. “It’s hard. You want every shot to be perfect, and every hole to be perfect. But ...”

“Not even professionals do that,” classmate Hadley Pell chimed in.

Saturday’s round featured no scores in the 80s, and only two scores in the 90s. It was better than the team’s first 18-hole round of the season, a 407 at Coyote Crossing on Monday, and Tuesday’s follow-up (423) at the Lafayette Jefferson Invitational.

“We’ve all been playing for enough time to realize that golf’s about more than having a perfect hole,” senior Danielle D’Andrea said. “It’s about making everything fit together. … Getting through it with the best attitude you can, having fun, learning about yourself, learning about how to get better every single match.

“We know this week (was) a lot about getting the feel for our swings, getting a feel for playing with people. We definitely have a good start (mentally).”

D’Andrea and Pell were All-Hoosier Conference golfers last season and two of the three experienced returnees, along with Rothrock, expected to guide Twin Lakes as it attempts to repeat as Twin Lakes Sectional champion. All three acknowledged reconfiguring takes time, and two used the now-venerable phrase “trust the process” while expounding upon the endgame for this year’s program.

Rothrock noted the need for balance between a typical “sectionals is everything” attitude with working on one’s game to be sharp enough at the tournament that past mistakes — whether on their home course or not — are handled easier. She recalled during spring signups coaches Biczo and Shannon Gardiner telling them to prepare for the season — “‘You have all summer. Use it wisely,’” Rothrock remembered one of them saying — and be ready for the season’s first week, which featured just three practices and five invitationals in the first nine days.

“That’s been the way it’s been since I’ve played, which was quite awhile ago,” Biczo said of the season’s opening-week whirlwind. “I think it gets your brain around ‘Here we are. It’s gold season. Let’s go.’ I like it like that. It gets them in shape, because sometimes that’s a struggle. Walking 18 holes isn’t an easy feat, and if you haven’t done it for months, it takes time to get used to. It’s good conditioning.”

Something Biczo and the team wasn’t used to unfolded during multiple events the first week. At multiple invitational, the Indians golfed together as a quintet, instead of being split up among five threesomes or foursomes as is tradition. The Indians walked Coyote Crossing and Purdue University’s Ackerman-Allen Golf Course as a group.

“Say you have a bad shot. They are always there, like, ‘Hey, it’s OK. The next one is going to be better,’” Rothrock said. “I feel like that impacts a lot (on Saturday’s round) because we can think our teammates are in our head — ‘Hey, it’s fine.’ Encouraging us positively.”

Added Pell, “With golf being an individual sport — it’s one girl for herself — it’s been … it shows how strong our sportmanship and support is.”

Nearly every shot taken as a group — tee, chip, punch out, approach shot, putt — was followed with encouragement from others in the group.

“It makes me feel more confident in myself,” first-year varsity golfer and senior Averie Brandt said. “Just having that constant, ‘Hey, keep it up. That was really good’, from the people I care about, the team — it’s nice.”

D’Andrea and Rothrock admittedly accumulated the week’s sounds into their collective thought for Saturday’s round.

“I can internalize my teammate’s voices in my head — ‘You know what, you’re good. Nice shot,’” D’Andrea said. “And I can tell myself that. You know they’d say positive things if they were there with you, so why not say positive things to yourself from them?

“That positivity has changed my game so much this week.”

D’Andrea collected three pars on the front nine, and five total during her last round of the week in shooting a 90. She played mostly bogey golf on the front nine after starting on hole 15 and double-bogeying two of her first three holes. Pell parred two holes, but also carded a quadruple-bogey and finished with a 94.

Rothrock (108) and Brandt (109) rounded out the scoring foursome, and Chloie Roth shot a 115. Harrison carded a 355 to beat Lebanon by a stroke. North Newton’s Mackendzie Dresbaugh won a two-hole playoff with Harrison’s Wesley Bradley and Lafayette Jefferson’s Hailie Wolf to earn medalist honors. They all carded an 81 in regulation.

Three of the opening week’s matches were 18-hole walks. A few more are scheduled along the way, including the sectional and regional rounds at the season’s end.

While it’s admittedly nice to perform well, none of the Indians are too hung up on results just yet. Biczo noted it will take Brandt and Roth, or Haley Bolinger, or whoever fills in at the bottom of the lineup, some time to get acclimated.

“Once we get into the regular flow of nine-hole matches, that’s when we’ll work a lot more on ‘How could we have made that seven a six?’ or ‘How can we place the ball where it needs to be for your next shot?’” she said. “One of my thoughts is that the most important shot is the next one. How do you set yourself up for that next shot? And that takes time.”

Twin Lakes Invitational

Saturday

Tippecanoe Country Club

Par: 72

Team scores

Harrison 355, Lebanon 356, Western 359, Lafayette Jefferson 373, West Lafayette 386, Northwestern 394, Twin Lakes 401, Rochester 402, North Newton 404, Lowell 405, Frankfort 425, Pioneer 426, McCutcheon 425, Benton Central 448, Rossville 452, Winamac 455, Twin Lakes JV 466, Rensselaer Central N/A (only three golfers)

Individual scores

Top 10

  • Mackenzie Dresbaugh, NN 81; Wesley Bradley, HARR 81; Hailie Wolf, LJ 81; Ella Taylor, LEB 83; Mady Smith, WEST 85; Maddie White, WL 85; Kristianna Lingenfelther, ROC 86; Aubrey Pantell, HARR 87; Ella Williamson, WEST 87; Kate Mayner, LEB 88; Sophie Long, HARR 88
  • — won medalist honors after two-hole playoff

Twin Lakes (401) — Danielle D’Andrea 90, Hadley Pell 94, Macie Rothrock 108, Averie Brandt 109, Chloie Roth 115

Twin Lakes JV (466) — Sam Hornung 110, Hayley Bolinger 111, Ella Galvin 119, Mia Mrak 126, Grace Marocco 130

Legler, Tri-County hope to make big leap in year 2

Experience is the key.

Tri-County began its golf program with just one girl, then-junior Bailee LaCosse, who had any experience at all on the course. As the first week of the second season unfolded, Mark Legler’s quartet has its eyes set on a marked improvement this season — and those returnees were each named All-Midwest Conference last season after helping the Cavaliers place second with a 212 at the league invitational in 2018.

“We have four back from last year, and I’m real optimistic,” he said. “We went from never having picked up a golf club, really, to being what I felt was pretty good (last season). If we can advance even half that much from where we ended moving forward, I think we can be pretty competitive.”

The Cavaliers placed seventh at the Twin Lakes Sectional with a 421 last year, and opened with two events during 2019’s opening week. Last Tuesday in Rensselaer, LaCosse shot a 105. Anna Pilotte carded a 107 and Ashley Siegfried shot a 108.

That trio and Maddie Musser will combine with Kiara Harris to fill out a full roster more often than not, Legler believes. They played 18 holes against North Newton on Friday and shot a 221, falling by 22 strokes. LaCosse carded a 50, Pilotte shot a 53 and Siegfred shot a 54. Musser and Harris both carded a 64.

“We have lots of ways we can improve, and we started working on them (Monday night),” Legler said. “I really think we can move forward a long way before the year ends.”

LaCosse still technically carries the most experience on a day-to-day basis, but Legler noted all of them are multi-sport athletes who have used their athleticism to help offset still being relatively new to the game.

“You don’t see high school kids, especially girls, very often tht you can say ‘Do this’ and ‘try that’ and they try it and it works,” Legler said. “They’re athletic enough to be able to hear or see something and make their hands try to do it. It’s really cool.”