Talk birdie to me

Salena Kahassai, Staffer

The girls golf team lost two games in the regular season to Steinbrenner High School and Academy of the Holy Names. At the First Tee Invitational, the girls placed third.  

“I knew going in that I was going to have to focus and give it my all,” sophomore and team captain Claudia Hofmeister said. “I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked to in districts so regionals for me was all about improving and just trying to get my team to states.” 

The girls practiced twice a week for a few hours eachOutside of practice, the team worked on bonding by riding together to matches and eating dinner together after competitions.  

“When we were all together, we had a great dynamic,” freshman Samantha Paradise said. “I think team bonding taught us sportsmanship and brought our team together.” 

At regionals, the girls placed fifth with a score of 346 strokes. They competed at the Heritage Oaks golf and country club in Sarasota.  

“We went with high expectations because we won districts,” junior Annika Johnson said. “We tried our hardest at regionals but some things we could do differently for next year is know who we are up against a little more. We were surprised to be competing against some really good teams.”  

The team this year is made up of 10 girls with no seniors. The lack of seniors has not negatively affected the team, junior team captain Leila Ossi said.  

“The lack of seniors has given many of the girls more opportunities to play,” Ossi said. “If we had seniors on the team, they would take up more playing spots and many of our freshmen girls wouldn’t have had the chance to play as much. We are all similar in age and know each other in a very close way. Without seniors, I feel that we can connect better.” 

Sisters Annika and Dagney Johnson have been playing on the Plant golf team together for 2 years. Sophomore Dagney says that she enjoys playing on the same team as her sister. 

“Being on a team with my sister means more bonding time for us,” Dagney said. “Annika and I get to practice together and play together which is a lot of fun for the both of us. We push each other to be the best we can be on and off the course.”  

Ossi says the team hopes to improve for next season and make it to states.  

“I hope we can go to states next year,” Claudia said. “I know if we do go, we’ll perform really well. Hopefully everyone will practice and really perfect their skills before next season starts.” 

The boy’s golf team, made up of 11 boys in all 4 grades, went undefeated during the regular season with an 11-0 record and won the Vinoy Invitational.  

“We’re all proud to be part of another undefeated regular season,” junior Logan Hunter said. “We had some great finishes in invitationals, with a 3rd place finish at Lakewood Ranch and a win at the Vinoy Classic. It was great to win big in districts and even better to get the win by two shots at regionals.”   

The boy’s golf team has gone completely undefeated during the regular season for several years.   

“We’ve had a really strong team for a while now,” Hunter said. “We haven’t lost in the regular season in at least 6 years but it could be longer. We’re lucky enough to have gotten good new players consistently to continue the success. Honestly, a big part of why I chose Plant is to be on a team that wins all the time.”   

Hunter says the competitive environment within the team helps to push the boys to strive to improve. The boys practice twice a week for about three hours. The team also practices and plays on their own or with their teammates away from team practices at other courses such as Palma Ceia.   

“We’re all really close,” Hunter said.  “We enjoy practicing and hanging out and competing together. I think it really helps our team that everyone wants to beat each other for things like bragging rights and position on the team, so we all work really hard on our golf games.  

Five of the six starters are upperclassmen, one of those being Hunter, who says he seeks to set an example for the underclassmen. Hunter also says the upperclassmen give advice on several things including improving swings, course management and mental approach.   

“The upperclassmen are great leaders and are very knowledgeable and skilled in many aspects,” sophomore Augie Hofmeister said. “They are the leaders of the team and bring us all together.”  

Coach Randal Hough said he appreciates the group of seniors.   

“The seniors are a very talented group of kids,” coach Hough said. “We are losing 4 seniors overall. 3 of the seniors have been playing all 4 years and are really good. They are truly the backbone of the team.”  

The team has been working on improving their team dynamic this year with the help of coach Hough.  

“I think the boys bonded really well,” Hough said. “I believe in strong team bonding and all of the guys being together helps the team atmosphere.”  

In the end, the team placed 8th at states after winning districts and regionals. 

“The boys worked hard all season,” Augie said. “To not win the state title just adds more of a reason to get better and win next year.”