Experienced lineup returns for Pine-Richland girls golf

Saturday, August 20, 2022 | 8:38 PM

Two years ago the Pine-Richland girls golf team had only six players and Jared Slimm was worried about the program’s future.

In a short time however, participation has picked up and the program is the healthiest it’s been in Slimm’s time as the Rams coach.

A total of 14 girls came out for last year’s team and that number has ballooned to 23 for this fall.

Every starter from last year’s team has returned and some newcomers have arrived, providing an optimistic outlook for 2022.

“We’re definitely making some inroads,” Slimm said. “We’re starting with scores around the low 200’s and our expectation is that we will average less than 200 over the course of the season. If we can get that average down to 190 that puts us in a good place to be in just about every match we play.”

The Rams have s a trio of seniors with varsity starting experience in Ruby McCune, Emily Campbell and Eleah Dickson.

Dickson returns to the team after taking last year off to focus on swimming.

Ella Balkovic, a junior, also returns, along with a pair of sophomores, Sydney Fluhrer and Catalina Olivero, who were varsity starters as freshmen.

Fluhrer shot 43 and was the medalist in Pine-Richland’s opening match, a win over Shaler on Aug. 11.

Slimm gave credit to all the girls for working hard to improve their game over the spring and summer.

The team has focused on two main areas to help achieve the goal of getting the average total score down to 190: the short game and having a positive mentality.

“The easiest way to shave off a couple strokes is to work around the greens,” Slimm said. “Our goal is to get to a point where they two-putt every hole, or maybe one-putt off a nice chip. For our top players we want them to average 1.8 putts per hole. That means we had one or two one-putts in a round and two-putted the rest of the holes.

“The other program-wide idea we base everything off of is the most important shot is the next shot. It’s not the one that just happened. It’s not a good or bad one, a drive or a putt, it’s the next shot. No matter how good you are, not every shot is going to be good. So, if you have a bad shot, the next one doesn’t have to be a bad one too.”

Slimm once again has Jim McNally with him as an assistant coach.

The Rams play their home matches at Conley’s Resort and Golf in Butler. They are in Section 1-3A with Blackhawk, Moon, North Allegheny, Oakland Catholic and Seneca Valley.

Slimm and McNally are hopeful to start a middle school program with the goal of teaching the game to youth and giving them some years of experience before they reach high school.

“We’re trying to build this into a program that goes beyond a varsity team, so that we have something than build on itself year after year,” Slimm said. “We’ve had some seventh and eighth graders that have come out to our optional team activities in the spring and summer. They seem really excited to play golf moving forward. We have some that are trying golf for the first time and we hope we can help them become life-long golfers well outside of high school and college.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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