HANNIBAL – Patricia Carmitchel knows the challenge of coaching a first-year program.
That’s what she’s been tasked to do with the fledging Hannibal girls golf program, the first in the school’s history, this fall. Carmitchel, however, isn’t going to add any pressure to golfers out for the team.
"I just want the girls to have fun and learn the game," Carmitchel said. "It’s literally something you can play your entire life."
The Pirates have six girls out for golf this fall, and only Erin Romano has any experience playing or being around the game. That means the other five golfers are playing golf for the first time, which Carmitchel is thrilled to have.
"The big thing for me is get them involved in the sport so they have something for the rest of their live," Carmitchel said. "I don’t care about how much experience they do or don’t have. They can honestly play this game forever and can roll their oxygen tank down the fairway with a club. I’ve seen that happen."
The Pirates held their first-ever practice Monday, and Carmitchel got to see exactly how new the girls are at golf. For example, a certain golf terminology Carmitchel used confused some of the girls.
That’s something she knows she’ll get the golfers up to speed.
"I had to explain it a little better," Carmitchel said. "They do know some of the etiquette, which is good. But sometimes they’re like, ‘Wait, what?’"
The first two practices were for chipping and putting. Wednesday’s practice was the first time the girls hit on the driving range at Norwoods Golf Course.
Carmitchel said she focused on praising the golfers when they made a putt or made good contact on a drive.
"I just want them to have that little taste of success and get addicted to it," she said. "That’s what it’s all about."
She knows the results for new golfers won’t replicate shooting an even-par 72 like a professional golfer can card. Carmitchel doesn’t want her golfers to even try that.
"The nice thing about golf is it’s you against the course," Carmitchel said. "You’re not relying on nine other people to play 5-on-5. If they miss the ball, I tell them it’s OK. You don’t need to have professional status to have fun or succeed in a sport."
That’s why she hopes the first year of the golf program can be about having fun.