The Palmyra girls golf program may not be ready to take on the high expectations the boys program has set over the last few years.
The team begins just its second year of existence, but coach Chris Parsons hopes to take another step in the right direction this season.
The Lady Panthers return a trio of golfers from the inaugural season.
“Sophomores Samantha Hirner, Reigan Parsons and Olivia Sublette are back from last year and I think they have a really bright future in golf,” the Lady Panthers coach said. “Last year was really the first time they had picked up the clubs and were really just learning the game.”
Parsons mentioned he feels the girls are more comfortable on the links this season after working through the first-season jitters.
“Really just learning all the rules of the game last year will be a big help this season for them,” the coach explained. ‘Hopefully they can just go out there and play more relaxed this year with all of the experience they gained last season.”
Although the team was in its start-up season last year, the Lady Panthers advanced a pair of golfers from the district, one whom earned a state finalist berth — Shannon Dehaan — and nearly advanced two more to the sectional level.
“Olivia and Reigan both just missed making it out of the district by one stroke last year as freshmen,” Parsons said. “Knowing they are back along with Samantha who put in a lot of time this summer and played well in the Tri-State Tour, it’s exciting to see what we can do this season.”
Hirner is expected to be the Lady Panthers No. 1 golfer this season.
“She was out here on the course just about every day this summer,” the coach said. “And being a coach’s daughter, Reigan had no other choice to be out here a lot with me as well. And with Olivia and her brother (Laithan) being on the boys team she is used to being around the game and she has the competitive desire as well.”
Parsons admitted the program may still be another year or two away from really taking off, but the expectations of being successful are there.
“Palmyra is pretty successful in almost every sport and I think these girls want to build this program into like what all the other sports here are,” he said. “We are still in the beginning stages of the build but I think we are headed in the right direction.”
In addition to the trio of returning golfers, senior Isabel Lima joins sophomore Sara Ridout and freshman Grace Krigbaum to round out the Lady Panthers roster this season.
“They just picked up the clubs Monday,” Parsons said of first-year players. “So we are still learning the tricks of the trade and working on our swings. We are working on just getting them to try and relax, which even adult golfers have a hard time doing as well.
“But we just hope they all can continue to improve as the season goes on and just see what happens.”
As humbling as the sport can be to even the best golfers, Parsons mentioned he can see his young team gaining more and more confidence with each practice.
“The mentality of them thinking they can make the shots is there,” he explained. “There is still some frustration but overall with them knowing what to expect this year is something we can build on.
“I think at this point last year we all were still learning the game, so we are already further along this year.”
The Lady Panthers open their season Aug. 18 with a triangular match in Columbia against Hickman and Father Tolton.