The Boonville Lady Pirates golf team will have plenty of experience heading into the 2018 season.
With nine girls suited out for the upcoming season, head coach Rob VanderLinden may very well have his most experienced team in its four-year tenure with four seniors.
“We have four seniors who have been consistent throughout their high school careers and we are working on getting their averages down and we have been doing that by work on their short game with chipping and putting,” VanderLinden said. “In a sense it’s a rebuilding year because we’ve lost our No. 1 golfer for the last three years so the senior golfers need to step up their game to fill the void.”
The Lady Pirates also have their sights set on a winning season while switching from the NCMC to the Tri-County Conference.
After finishing 8-2 overall and third in the NCMC Tournament in 2017, VanderLinden feels like if the girls play well the team could finish in the upper half of the TCC and should compete for the top.
“Blair Oaks has been a solid program the last few years,” VanderLinden said. “Eldon probably has the best golfer in the state and Osage is another good program. Southern Boone is probably like us while California is rebuilding.”
As for the strengths of the team this season, VanderLinden said it has to be experience with the four seniors and five returning letterwinners.
“Four of the five have played most of the courses we will see and know what to expect when it comes to meet and tournaments,” VanderLinden said. “Their stroke average are also within a stroke or two of each other. Any one of them on a good day could be a meet medalist.”
As for the weaknesses of the team, VanderLinden said this team doesn’t have that one good golfer that has separated from the other. “Each one of the girls can get from tee to green but the short game could always get better,” VanderLinden said. “We just want to try and get as many wins as we can against the new conference. We would also like to be competitive in all of our matches and tournaments and use our experience to start lowering our scores.”
With one qualifier left to play, which could change everything, VanderLinden said right now senior Mille Dorman is the No. 1 player for the Lady Pirates. While earning all-conference honors and qualifying for sectionals last year at the No. 3-4 position, VanderLinden said Dorman has worked hard over the summer to drop her scoring average. “Mille is getting better from tee to green and has dropped her strokes by three from last year,” VanderLinden said.
Of course all that could change as the 1-4 positions are all within 1-2 strokes of each other. However as of Wednesday, VanderLinden said senior Alisa Newbold would play the No. 2 position, followed by Olivia Reynolds at the No. 3 spot and Jalyn Schnetzler at the No. 4 slot.
VanderLinden said Newbold’s biggest improvement from last year to this year has been made on her short game and as a result has dropped her stroke average by two. As for Reynolds, who also earned all-conference and all-district honors, VanderLinden said her stroke average is consistent with last year’s scoring average while Schnetzler has worked extremely hard improving her short game. “Each one of Jalyn’s qualifiers has been better,” VanderLinden said.
As for the fifth spot in the lineup, VanderLinden said it’s between junior Lily Terrell and freshman Raghan Skoufos. “Lily just started swinging a golf club this summer,” VanderLinden said, “but she is eager to learn and asks a lot of questions to get better.  As for Raghan, she just needs to work on consistency in all parts of her game.”
Sophomore Julianne Bromagen could also make a push for the fifth spot after improving her stroke average by three strokes from last year.
Rounding out the team are foreign exchange students Iris Ehrengren and Francesca Zeeca. VanderLinden said Ehrengren is a very experienced player and has been playing since the age of seven while Zeeca is playing golf for the first time.