Three seasons ago the Carthage girls’ golf program first formed, and sent three golfers to the sectional tournament. A year ago the Tigers qualified for the sectional tournament as a team, and Abbey Catron went on to compete at state.
Now, in year three, Carthage will send two golfers to state as Catron, a junior, makes her second appearance, and junior Kelsey Frost makes her first.
“The more we can get there and the more experience we get, the more they can figure out that it’s just another tournament,” Carthage head coach Lowell Catron said Friday. “I’m hoping Abbey can communicate that with Kelsey this year and the two of them can communicate it with the rest of the team next year.”
The Class 2 State Championship will be held Monday and Tuesday at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield. The par-72 course is 5,516 yards long. Catron is slated to tee off at 9:33 a.m. Monday on the first hole, and Frost is slated to tee off at 9:15 a.m. on the 10th hole.
“At sectionals I played pretty good,” Frost said. “I had a few pars, but I mostly had bogeys and I didn’t get into too many double bogeys, which is what coach has really been telling us not to do. I just need to work on chipping and putting a little bit more for state.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s my junior year and I’ve never gone to state before. I was really hoping to get to go this year and I’m glad that Abbey gets to go with me.”
Head coach Lowell Catron said Frost saw a huge improvement between her freshman and sophomore seasons, dropping an average of 12 to 15 shots per round.
“This year her average is better than last year,” he said. “Sometimes you plateau when you improve and I feel like there for a little while she was plateauing, but now I I can see her getting better and better. She’s great mentally. She never gets down on herself, never gets upset, she just keeps plugging along. She’s a grinder and that to me is a great compliment. You never worry about her losing concentration. She always gives it her all. Once a person has those intangibles she’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Abbey Catron, the Central Ozark Conference champion, shot a career-low 79 at the district tournament, and played in an extremely talented group at the sectional tournament. In fact, all the girls she played with at the sectional tournament last week qualified for state, and she’ll be playing with Joplin’s Samantha Stout on Monday. Stout finished seventh in the state last season.
Page 2 of 2 - “I didn’t play as good as I did at districts, but I was with a really good group and I think that helped me with my confidence,” Catron said Friday. “I’m real excited to go. This morning we got to walk down the hallways because they send us off, and I’m feeling pretty confident because it’s awesome that we made it to state and there’s nowhere to go next, so we just have to focus on playing our best.”
“She loves it,” Lowell Catron said. “She works hard, she practices. She’s always asking for help. You can’t ask for anything more than that, somebody who wants to improve. She’s made a good progression. Her tournament average is probably four or five shots better than last year, and she’s had more consistently good tournaments this year, winning the conference championship and shooting an 80. That was a good confidence builder. Shooting an 83 at Nevada was another good score. To break 80 for the first time at the district was a real good score.”
Catron said none of the Carthage golfers have played at Meadow Lake Acres, but it’s been compared to Joplin’s Twin Hills Golf Course. That will be the site of next year’s state championship.