WIRT COUNTY, W.Va. – For this week’s Honda Athlete of the Week, we decided to honor all 13 local golfers who participated in Tuesday’s WVSSAC Girls State Golf Invitational.
More than 70 of the top high school female golfers in the state converged on Mingo Bottom Golf Course in Wirt County this week for the fourth installment of the girls golf championship.
Bridgeport’s Marr Johnson — a talented swimmer and golfer — is one of just five girls in the state to have competed in the event all four years.
“I’ve definitely never been a part of anything like that before. So, it’s nice to be able to say that I was one of the first ones to go through it all four years,” Johnson said Tuesday.
Johnson was one of five local products to finish inside the Top 20, as she finished ninth. Morgantown’s Isabella Ferrell placed tenth, and University’s Aubrey Estel played well enough to place 15th.
Morgantown’s Makenna Darr was three spots behind her, and Lincoln’s Hailey Boyce tied for 19th.
“I love golf. I think about it all the time. I just love that I can play it until I’m very old, which you can’t do with a lot of sports, especially dance. You can’t do a kick when you’re 80, but I can come out here and golf when I’m 80,” said Estel, who told us on Tuesday that she quit participating in dance to pick up golf.
Three common themes revealed themselves on Tuesday: One, these girls can play. Period. There was a lot of great golf to be seen. Two, the players genuinely enjoyed playing with one another, and like getting to know the other girls on the course.
“It’s a great thing to see a lot of girls my age out golfing, because not a lot of girls do it. And the girls I played with today, they were super sweet. Loved playing with them,” Darr said. “They’re always smiling. So, they made it a lot easier to be happy when you’re playing.”
“It’s definitely a different friendship than most other sports you get,” said Johnson, who also added that it’s easy to form a bond with the fellow female golfers in the state, when they not only are paired together during the high school season but during Callaway Tour events, as well.
The third theme of Tuesday was the role that fathers have played in growing the appreciation for the sport within these girls on the links. Every competitor that 12 Sports spoke with noted that it was their dad who helped get them started.
“My dad actually golfs. So, I’ve been golfing since I was ten or nine. So, I’ve always been around golf my whole life,” said Notre Dame’s Kalie Minigh.
“My dad and my brother play it, and I want to spend more time with my dad. And I’ve just been practicing ever since,” Estel added.
Multiple local players had some of their best scores or accomplishments in Wirt County on Tuesday.
Both Darr and Johnson both had their best performances in their personal history of playing at the event. Minigh tallied her first birdie of the season on Hole No. 15. Those are just a couple examples.
It’s for all of these reasons that all 13 local golfers who competed on Tuesday are this week’s Honda Athletes of the Week.