Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YARMOUTH - Over the years, it hasn't been unusual for high school teams to have one talented girl golfer, but it's rare when they have two.
Grace King used to spend her autumns playing soccer, but decided that golf’s the sport she’ll pursue the most seriously, and that’s fine with Coach Greg Baker.
Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Seniors Monica Austin, left, and Grace King are among Yarmouth High School’s top golfers, and at ease playing with and against boys.
Yarmouth does in seniors Monica Austin and Grace King. They've been on the team since their freshmen seasons.
Austin is the team's No. 1 player and King alternates between second and third. They've steadily improved since their first season with the Clippers.
"They're both solid players," said Coach Greg Baker. "They're golf savvy solid with strong etiquette."
Both began playing in the junior golf program at The Woodlands in Falmouth where their families are members. They also have been involved in Brian Bickford's junior program at Val Halla GC in Cumberland. They take lessons from Woodlands teaching pro Paul Piveronas.
Austin and King are best of buddies who root for one another.
"We both push each other to play well," said Austin. "If I don't win, I would want Grace to be the one who does."
Austin has been into the game longer than King. She decided early that golf was the sport she wanted to pursue. She continues to play basketball and softball, saying those sports help her competitiveness in golf.
"I get more out of playing those sports than I would spending three hours on the practice range," said Austin, who still puts in plenty of practice time.
King played soccer in the fall until she entered high school.
"I wanted to spend more time on golf," she said.
Both played in this summer's Women's Maine Amateur at Brunswick GC. Austin finished second, six shots behind winner Emily Bouchard. King didn't play as well as she would have liked, but feels her game is coming around for the high school season.
"Monica had a strong summer," said Baker.
"Both girls work hard on their games. I would call Grace our most improved golfer over the last year. She has a wonderful attitude about playing. Nothing bothers her. She keeps everyone on the team smiling," he said.
Austin won the state girls' qualifier for the Big I Classic in June at Cape Arundel GC in Kennebunkport. That earned a trip to the national tournament in North Carolina. She missed the cut, but gained valuable experience.
Four seasons ago, Greely High had Meghan Bickford and Laura Grant playing at the top of the lineup. Now Austin and King are doing the same for the Clippers. Going into their fourth season, they are very comfortable playing against boys in matches.
"Playing against girls would feel weird," said King.
King is looking at Division III schools with a women's golf team. Austin said she is looking at a small Division I school in the South to play golf.
Both want to cap their high school careers by helping their team qualify for the Class B state team championship and winning the state schoolgirl championship.
Should Austin win the title, King will be her biggest supporter, and the same would be true for Austin if King should win.
They've been encouraging each other since they first started playing.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:
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Monica Austin, Yarmouth High School’s top player, watches a drive while practicing at Toddy Brook Golf Course on Monday.