By Abbie Digel, Explorebigsky.com Editor
It took some creativity to get students at Lone Peak High School interested in golf, said Lori Savoy, head coach of the first ever LPHS golf team and a summer golf pro at the Yellowstone Club.
Golf has a tendency to not be a cool sport, Savoy says, but “these kids are making it the cool sport.” And besides, it’s the only spring sport at LPHS.
Golfing in Montana can be a challenge because of the long winter and the travel distances between golf courses and high schools.
This spring, the Big Horns were lucky the snow melted fast, but for the majority of their training, the team, which was made up of 12 LPHS freshman, practiced in team member Tate Tatom’s barn, hitting golf balls into a net. Four of the team members had never touched a club before, and at the Big Horns’ first meet, they had only practiced outside twice.
“We are out there in down coats, hats and gloves most of the time,” Savoy said. “But these kids have dedicated themselves to becoming better golfers, and exceeded mine and everyone else’s expectations.”
The team had eight boys and four girls. Seven members of the team attended the Class C state match on May 16 in Ennis and brought home LPHS’s first ever first ever high school state champion and team trophy. The boys’ team placed 2nd, and Tate Tatom won the individual, overall Class C State Championship. The girls’ team took 8th place.
The road to states was a long one.
Savoy and assistant coach Mike King first introduced the basics. Once the kids had the bug and began to hit a solid ball, they became competitive, Savoy says.
“They stayed positive, energetic and came out every day to practice and get better.”
Once the team mastered timing, rhythm and balance, Savoy taught them how to manage a golf course. “Kids at this level have a tendency to only hit the driver and [want to] see the ball go a long way, but your short game is the most important part.”
The challenge of short game, combined with the fact that the Big Sky course is not officially open, proved difficult for kids, especially at matches.
It’s difficult to play on a mowed green, when you’re not used to how fast it can be, Savoy says. During practice, it was also hard to find a white golf ball in white snow, Savoy said, joking. The team also spent time practicing at the Black Bull golf course in Bozeman.
Through it all, Savoy explained to the kids that golf will be a lifelong sport. And though it’s an individual sport, the team has learned to work together and get scores low enough to win some meets, finally making it to states.
As for next season, Savoy and her family are moving from Big Sky, so Mike King will take over as head coach. Savoy believes the team will return next year solid, competitive golfers who’ve learned to enjoy the game.
Tate Tatom, Griffin House, Trevor House, Quinn House, Gabrielle Gasser, Tehya Braun and Karlie Perry
‘12 LPHS Golf Team: Tehya Braun, Gabrielle Gasser, Janie Izzo,Karlie Perry, Grayson Bell, Griffin House, Quinn House, Trevor House, Joe McGough, Anthony Savoy, Rachid Schultz and Tate Tatom.
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