Penn Hills golfer learns lessons on Oakmont’s fabled greens

Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 11:01 AM

Every young golfer’s dream in Western Pennsylvania is to play a round of golf at Oakmont Country Club. Penn Hills sophomore Lucy Brayton had that opportunity as she competed in the WPIAL Class AAA Girls Individual Championship on Oct. 8.

Brayton, who was the first Penn Hills girls golfer to qualify for WPIALs since Mallory Ruhling in 2007, finished in 21st place out of 35 golfers as she shot a 100. Brayton recorded a 54 on the front nine before finishing the back nine with a 46. Brayton was nine strokes shy of qualifying for the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Heritage Hills Golf Course on Oct. 20.

“I had 20 putts on the front and 23 putts on the back,” Brayton said. “I actually putted better on the front 9, but it was an eight-stroke difference. You’re supposed to have around 30 putts, but I had 43, which is quite a bit, so if I putted better, I would’ve shot better.

“I was striking the ball really good that day. I thought I performed well, but obviously I didn’t get in the top five. My short game was not so good, but I hit a lot of good shots.”

Mt. Lebanon junior Lindsey Powanda won the event with an 80. South Fayette’s Caroline McConnell, Fox Chapel’s Nina Busch, Peters Township’s Ella McRoberts and Butler’s Paige Scott all qualified for the state tournament. Moon’s Rhianna Firmstone was named the alternate.

Brayton earned a spot in the WPIAL championships after finishing second with a round of 85 in the Section 3-AAA tournament at Murrysville Golf Course on Sept. 23. Penn-Trafford’s Lauren Barber won the section title by finishing with an 81. Brayton shot a 42 on the front nine and finished her round with a 43 on the back.

Brayton’s experience at Oakmont could be summed up with how the 17th hole went for her. After hitting what she thought were four good shots, Brayton still bogeyed the par 4. The two shots she highlighted were her approach shot to the green that rolled off the back and her first putt that just rimmed out.

“It’s a hard course,” Brayton said. “I was only able to play 14 holes during my practice round because of darkness. If only I knew the greens a little better. I know some of the girls were able to play every day for two weeks in advance.”

With two more years left, Brayton will continue to work on all parts of her game as she looks to qualify for the state tournament in future years.

“At the beginning of the year, I was shooting a lot better. My irons weren’t nearly as good. My putting was spectacular. It was saving me a lot of strokes,” Brayton said. “A lot of good golfers say you drive for show and putt for dough. You could be all over the golf course, but if you putt well, you will shoot a decent score. It’s easy to three-putt a hole.”

During her freshman year, Brayton missed the target score to qualify for the WPIAL championship by a few strokes.

“I was taking it a little bit more seriously on the high school team and during WPIALs,” Brayton said. “I think Oakmont being the WPIAL tournament was a great motivator.

“I’m going to try next year to advance further and further. I think I can do it if I set my mind to it. It’s great to have these types of tournaments to play at these different courses against these really good golfers.”


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