BECKER - Eight area high school girls are set to compete in the 2014 Minnesota State Golf tournament today and Wednesday.
Marshall's Hannah Peterson and Jessica Blanchard will take part in the Class AA tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, while six other athletes are participating in the Class A tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.
Minneota/Lincoln HI's Heidi Guttormsson and Lakeview's Whitney Fischer are the first area golfers to tee off, starting the white course at 8:33 a.m., followed by Minneota/Lincoln HI's Allison Bot (8:42 a.m.) and Kyra Gores (8:51 a.m.).
Members of the Marshall girls golf team pose after winning a meet earlier this season. Jessica Blanchard and Kami Love will both be making their third consecutive trip to the State Tournament.
Minneota/LHI’s Kyra Gores chips up on to the green during the Section 3A meet at Marshall earlier this season.
"Kyra has been up there four times and Allison and Heidi two times, so they're getting used to the procedure and process," Minneota/Lincoln HI coach Greg Gile said. "They've got a pretty good focus on how to play every hole, some by trial and error where they've been stung. But that's how they learn not to try a certain shot."
Gile said the athletes got to Becker on Sunday and put in good practice rounds.
"The girls played very well (Monday)," he said. "Everybody did. We had a lot of local golfers with us, too. They were hitting the ball well. We're excited about it. The girls have a good course management plan, so they're not just swinging."
Overall, Gile said the course looked to be in good shape for the tournament.
"The course has had a lot of rain and has handled it really well," Gile said. "There are some issues if you go in the rough, where it's really wet and thick. On the fairway itself, it's very much like a carpet. It's beautiful."
Gile believes that the red course will be more challenging for golfers than the white one.
"On the red nine, there is some subtle decision-making going on, mostly off the tee-box," Gile said. "If they go for huge distance, that's where the problems come in. The key is positioning and strategy on each hole, so we'll see how well we do. I'd say 80 percent of the time, our kids hit it perfect, so it's two times out of 10 that you have to worry. Everybody's going to have one of those moments on each side. You just have to cut your losses and go on."
Gile likens the Pebble Creek course to Marshall Golf Club, where sections were held.
"It's similar to Marshall in that you're better off to position yourself, get to the 100-yard marker and everything will be fine," he said.
Along with Gile, Minneota/Lincoln HI coaches Ralph Hagen and LeaAnne Bot will divide their time between the three Viking athletes.
"You can walk with them at state, but coaches are forbidden from being on the greens or in the sand traps," Gile said. "So we'll divide our time, going from kid to kid."
Since the three golfers have a good handle on how to play the course, Gile said he's more concerned about the mental aspect of the game. He believes he's found a good way to help them decompress.
"When I'm walking with the girls, we talk about everything else except golf," he said. "You have no idea how many times I've had to talk about prom dresses with Kyra."
Gile feels confident that all three Viking golfers have the potential to finish in the top 10-15.
"They just have to get into the flow and calm down," he said. "I pray they don't even look at the scoreboard after the first day. Just finish their 18 holes, put their clubs in the car and go."
Also competing in Class A is Westbrook-Walnut Grove's Abby Herding, who placed seventh last year. Herding tees off at 9 a.m. Yellow Medicine East's Leah Jeseritz is scheduled to begin the red course at 8:33 a.m.
Peterson and Blanchard are competing at the state golf tournament for the third straight time and are looking to improve on past performances.
"I think they're very excited," Marshall coach Nancy Blanchard said. "They seem loose. Hannah did really well last year finishing around 10th and Jessica was a little further down. Hannah had her best round of her career up here last year."
Marshall team golfed the Ridges at Sand Creek course for a meet earlier this season. The two individual state qualifiers also had a practice round on Monday.
"The practice round went just fine," Coach Blanchard said. "It's not a day you're necessarily going to keep score, but just get a feel for the course. They got an idea of the condition of the golf course."
Like Pebble Creek, the course in Jordan has been wet recently.
"There's a premium for keeping the ball in the fairway," Coach Blanchard said. "It's been awfully wet the last week. The greens will be fast and the rough is thick."
The weather outlook seems pleasant this year, Blanchard said, noting that the state tournament golfers were shorted nine holes last year in the 36-hole competition.
"We were rain-shorted last year," she said. "The girls did 18 holes the first day and nine the second day. But I think the weather is going to be nice this year. There's supposed to be very little wind and temperatures of between 70-80 degrees, so that's good."
CLASS AA- two Marshall girls
Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan
Hole No. 1
8:51 a.m.-Jessica Blanchard tees off
9 a.m.-Hannah Peterson tees off
Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker
8:33 a.m.-Heidi Guttormsson, Minneota/LH, Whitney Fischer, Lakeview
8:42 a.m.- Allison Bot, Minneota/LH
8:51 a.m.- Kyra Gores, Minneota/LH
9 a.m.- Abby Herding, WWG
8:33 a.m.-Leah Jeseritz, YME