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GIRLS GOLF: Claremore shows promise as spring break approaches

Mar. 15—As the Lady Zebra golfers gear up for spring break, they find themselves in the midst of a promising season with three tournaments under their belt.

Led by standout player Hadley Abraham, Claremore is showing signs of improvement and camaraderie as it navigates the early stages of the season. Abraham, a seasoned golfer who qualified as an individual for the state tournament last year, has been a driving force behind the team's success.

Placing in the top 10 in all three tournaments so far, Abraham's leadership both on and off the course has been instrumental in motivating her teammates to strive for excellence.

Coach Scott Greenland spoke highly of Abraham's contributions, noting her exceptional work ethic and positive attitude.

"Beyond medaling at each tournament, she's a leader of the group," Greenland said. "She works really, really hard. One thing I was thinking about and noticing this week, she's the biggest cheerleader of all the other players. So not only does she work hard and continue to improve, but she's really encouraging and inspirational to the rest of the players, who are very young."

In addition to Abraham's stellar performance, a trio of sophomores — Kate Merriman, Ava Pettus and Ella Ratcliff — have all shown significant improvement since last season. Competing for positions within the team, these young players have raised the level of competition and pushed each other to excel on the course.

Pettus and Ratcliff, in particular, have demonstrated consistency, with their scores consistently within a few strokes of each other.

"They've all tremendously improved after playing their first year last year, and all are really solid numbers," Greenland said. "All three of them are battling it out for the positions within the bag-number system, so it's pretty good competition. All of our returners have consistently shot better, and I believe everyone has beaten their personal best from last year, as far as best round."

The team's progress can be attributed in part to the implementation of offseason golf programs and a new strength-and-conditioning regimen.

By honing their skills year-round and focusing on physical fitness, the players have seen a marked increase in confidence and performance on the course.

"They're in the gym consistently, several days a week," Greenland said. "I've seen a change in confidence level — we're all hitting the ball farther, and it's obvious. No one can deny that every single person that's been in that strength-and-conditioning room, they're hitting it much further than last year."

With the spring break hiatus fast approaching, the team faces a 15-day gap between tournaments. The Lady Zebras don't return to action until Tuesday, March 26 at the Keystone Golf Club in Cleveland.

However, Greenland has devised a plan to ensure that the players stay sharp and focused during the break. Despite the absence of official competitions, the team will engage in simulated tournaments, imitating the pressure and intensity of real match play.

This approach not only helps maintain the players' competitive edge but also fosters a healthy sense of internal competition within the team as they battle for position within the bag system.

The bag system refers to the method of organizing players within a team based on their skill level and performance. Each team typically consists of five players, and these players are ranked from one to five, with the No. 1 player being the strongest performer and the No. 1 player being the least experienced or skilled.

The rankings within the bag system determine the lineup for tournaments and matches. The No. 1 player usually occupies the top spot in the lineup and competes against the strongest opponents from the opposing teams. Conversely, the No. 5 player occupies the lowest spot and typically faces less formidable opponents.

Coaches often use the bag system to create internal competition within the team, encouraging players to improve their skills and vie for higher positions in the lineup.

"We were supposed to have a simulated tournament yesterday (Thursday), but that got rained out," Greenland said. "They'll do practice assignments for spring break because we've got some traveling and all that. (They will) make sure to get in putts and work around chipping, putting the greens and getting time on the driving range, depending on where they're at. When we hit that next week after that, we'll do what I call mock tournaments, where we basically just set it up in our app like we're at a tournament and keep score like we do at a tournament and have all the same rules and try to recreate that atmosphere. It's usually a battle for position.

"When there's competition there, everybody wants to move up to the next level, so you can create some competition among your own team, even though when you go compete at a tournament, you're still on the same team."