The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 3, 2013

Pacers golfers set to battle weather, tough field

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Katelynn Bennett will have some incentive for today’s Enid girls Invitational golf tournament at Meadowlake Golf Course, weather permitting.

The Pacer senior has a bet with Plainsmen No. 1 golfer Colton Jackson that she can beat the 88 he shot at Meadowlake in the boys tournament Monday.

“It gives me a little bit of a drive,’’ said Bennett, whose low score has been an 87. “My goal is to shoot in the mid-80s to beat Colton, but my goal at every tournament is to beat myself (previous low score).’’

Kayci McClendon, Enid’s No. 2 player, doesn’t have a bet with anyone, but has the same mindset.

“I just keep telling myself to get better and beat myself,’’ said McClendon, who had her best score of the season (90) at the Carl Albert Tournament last week.

Both girls said it’s an advantage to play at home because of the familiarity with the course. But it brings a little more pressure, too.

“It’s better to play at home, but sometimes it’s not,’’ McClendon said. “You put a little more pressure on yourself with your family and friends being there.’’

“You’re a little more comfortable at home,’’ Bennett said. “But you put more pressure on yourself with the crowd and everything.’’

Bennett and McClendon are feeling a different kind of pressure being the No. 1 and No. 2 players for the first time.

“You’re playing with girls who have done this forever,’’ Bennett said. “We have never had that kind of pressure before.’’

“The competition is harder, but that makes you play better,’’ McClendon said. “When you’re playing with a girl who is shooting a 77, and you’re shooting in the mid-90s, it makes us want to buckle down and concentrate more.’’

The Pacers didn’t practice Wednesday because of a persistent rain. Today’s forecast is for a cold and windy day, but no rain.

“We haven’t played in good weather all year,’’ Bennett said. “You just have to put on tons of layers of clothes.

“You just have to block out the bad weather,’’ McClendon said. “It makes it a little more difficult to play when you’re bundled up. Hopefully, as the day goes on, you can take off a layer or two and be able to swing the club better.’’

EHS coach David Lee said his team has had a good attitude in dealing with the weather.

“The girls have never complained,’’ he said. “No one has said they don’t want to be out there. They are competitors. They will be ready when the time arrives.’’

Bennett played as a freshman and sophomore, but skipped last season to concentrate on softball. She was the ace pitcher for the Pacers last fall.

“The two sports are a lot different,’’ she said. “In softball, if you’re having a bad day, there’s somebody that can take care of you. In golf, all the pressure is on yourself. If you’re having a bad day, you have to work it out personally. Golf is stressful, but a lot of fun. I love my team for sure.”

McClendon has played four years of volleyball for the Pacers.

“Golf is a head and mental sport,’’ McClendon said. “If you get down, you don’t have a team to back you up. It’s an individual sport, but you still have to play hard for the team if you’re struggling.’’

McClendon (101 stroke average) and Bennett (94.8) will be joined in the EHS lineup by Madison Boler (103.8), Baylee Roberts (108) and Sydney Davenport (114).

The top three teams from last year — Edmond North, Deer Creek Edmond and Edmond Santa Fe — are returning. Other teams in the field are Pioneer, Ponca City, Guthrie, Stillwater, Norman North, Putnam City North and Edmond Memorial.

“There will be some awfully good teams and awfully good players here if everyone shows up,’’ Lee said. “We’re still a work in progress. Our scores have been going down, but this is a tough course. We have seldom scored well here even when I had some real good teams. It’s going to be mental challenge to play through the cold and dampness.’’

Lee decided to hold the tournament after talking with Meadowlake course superintendent Michael League Wednes-day.

“He said it was very playable,’’ Lee said. “The rain is supposed to stop tonight (Wednesday). We’re used to dealing with the cold and wind.’’