We think of golf as an individual sport.
For the most part, it is, especially on the professional level, aside from a couple of my favorite events, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
But the college and high school game is different.
That is something the Lapel girls golf team showed over the weekend.
The Bulldogs overcame incredible odds just to qualify for the state finals, held Friday and Saturday at Prairie View in Carmel.
First, they had to escape the meat grinder that is the Noblesville sectional at the difficult Harbour Trees course. It is a grouping of teams that include traditional powers Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville as well as a very good team from Hamilton Heights.
The Bulldogs cracked the top three and left Fishers in their wake.
Then, despite returning home for regional at Edgewood, the odds were not much better. In addition to HSE and Noblesville, sectional champion Heritage Christian — with its super sophomore Yanah Ralston — as well as powerhouse Columbus North were included.
Taking advantage of their home digs, the Bulldogs edged Heritage Christian by a single stroke and qualified for the state meet for the first time.
And they did it together.
They were usually led on the scoreboard by freshman Macy Beeson, who earned all-state selection for her efforts at the finals.
But, as talented as she is, Beeson could not have done it alone.
The only senior on the team is Lauren Lutz. She excelled at the No. 2 position the last two years behind state-qualifier Kristen Hobbs and did it again this year. Her leadership of a team comprised of three freshmen and a sophomore can not be quantified.
Sophomore Chloe Renihan really came in to her own this year. Her scores regularly challenged Beeson and Lutz for medalist honors at dual meets, even claiming the prize in a late-season home meet. She was also the top No. 3 golfer at regional.
The team’s other two freshmen, Kerith Renihan and Grace Martin, filled out the scorecards as solid No. 4 and No. 5 players. They came up with personal bests when the team needed the boost.
With an enrollment of 473, Lapel was the smallest of the 15 schools to have a team qualify for the state finals this year.
Evansville Memorial was the second smallest at 609 while schools like Noblesville, Lake Central, Penn and Carmel, with an enrollment of 5,286, each boasted enrollments of over 3,000.
Penn, along with Gibson Southern (703) were the two schools Lapel beat at the finals.
They are the eighth-smallest school to ever make the state finals and the second smallest school this century, trailing only the 2000 Fremont team’s 376.
More impressive than the Bulldogs’ play was their togetherness.
Watching them interact, it is clear not only do they play the game well, they truly enjoy each other’s company.
Second-year coach Dylan Crosley remarked his favorite part of the team was not necessarily its play but how fun the players are to coach.
And the future looks just as bright as the present. While Lutz will be missed, the rest of this talented and together team will be back. Crosley even hinted there may be an exciting addition or two.
The Bulldogs deserve all the kudos for this year and will be fun to watch in the coming years.