Golfers try to balance sport, schoolwork

Bump and Run: Senior Shelby Smith works on chipping during practice. The team will have to miss many school days this season. Photo by Halley Hollis

Bump and Run: Senior Shelby Smith works on chipping during practice. The team will have to miss many school days this season. Photo by Halley Hollis

Kaitlyn Marsh

Bump and Run: Senior Shelby Smith works on chipping during practice. The team will have to miss many school days this season. Photo by Halley Hollis
Teeing off on the seventh hole in a varsity tournament last week, junior Makayla Baker wasn’t thinking about what club to use in order to land her in the fairway — rather, her focus was the chemistry test she was missing that day.
“I missed my chemistry class on Monday when I was supposed to take a test, and then on Wednesday I missed it again, meaning I had to find outside of school time to make [the tests] up,” Baker said. “Our new [chemistry] unit started on Wednesday, so I needed to figure out what that’s all about; I’m really behind.”
Last Monday Sept. 12, the girls’ golf team headed off to its fifth tournament of the season, playing at Sedalia Country Club. Coach Melissa Melahn and her varsity top five were in the heat of their bustling six-week schedule, placing second by three strokes behind defending state champions Notre Dame de Sion.
“It makes things extremely difficult because we are usually missing the second or third day of school, and unfortunately, due to the calendar, we tend to miss the same day, which means you’re missing the same class,” Melahn said. “That really means that the girls have to learn how to manage their time.”
Besides trying to juggle school work, at least two hours of practice every day after school, clubs and possibly a part time job, these high school golfers miss at least one full day of school a week during the season, because of the 18-hole tournaments that last five to six hours and cannot take place after school.
This adds even more stress, as the athletes must try to find time to meet with teachers, gather make-up work from all their missed classes and attend matches, often twice a week, after school. Nine-hole matches usually take golfers out of their fourth hour class and keep them competing on the course until dusk.
“You have to balance golf with your grades, and you don’t have all your time to play golf,” junior Megan Goree said. “Your grades start to slip, and you have to come in extra time, but you can hardly find extra time to come in [to school] because we havegolf every day after school. It messes with my mental game because I’m thinking of all this school stuff I have to do and not focusing on golf.”
Baker faced conflicts with golf and her grades in the first few days of school, having to drop from pre-calculus honors to regular. Unfortunately, she had limited classes to choose from, causing her entire schedule to be altered after the first week of school.
“Pre-calculus honors was a class I was looking forward to challenging myself in this year, but after I missed a few classes [because of golf], I realized it was really hard to keep up on my own and decided it would be a good idea to drop down to the regular pre-calc class,” Baker said. “I liked my old schedule, but I couldn’t keep it and still reach my goal of doing well in school.”
Struggling with grades because of absences and conflicts does not settle well with Melahn. She tells the girls that school comes first and is constantly reminding the golfers that she has complete access to their grades.
“I do expect that everyone communicate with their teachers ahead of time. The other expectation is for anyone who has below a C, then we kind of have to work on an individual basis as far as them working with their teachers to get their grades up,” Melahn stated. “The season is so short, I don’t want something that is so short to affect the rest of the semester with how much school we miss.”
In total, the golf team has about 11 full days of school to miss, including sectionals and the state championship in October and about seven matches that take place after school. But in the end, it is rewarding for the team.
“Even though we miss a lot of school and it takes up a lot of time, playing golf is worth it because at the end of the day it’s something I’m doing for myself and [it’s] my own personal goal to reach for,” Goree said. “And when you do reach that goal, it’s the best feeling in the world.
By Kaitlyn Marsh