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BETWEEN THE LINES | Today's Focus / Girl's Golf

It's a Walk in Park for Some

October 01, 1998|PETER YOON

Girls' golf season may be in full swing, but for Ina Kim and Emma Stachowitz of Harvard-Westlake, it's the off-season.

Kim, a sophomore, and Stachowitz, a freshman, are among the top players in the region mainly because they play extensive summer schedules. They play local, national and international tournaments against the best competition around.

Normally, this is the time of year when it all ends--the dreaded six-month drought of competition.

But now that the Southern Section has sanctioned girls' golf, Kim, Stachowitz and hundreds of other girls have stumbled into some bonus playing time.

"This is more for fun than competition," said Kim, a quarterfinalist in the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship this summer. "We can play more relaxed golf. I know I can shoot 10-over and still be in the top three players."

Kim and Stachowitz generally shoot much better than 10-over. In three matches so far, Kim is a combined 15-over-par. Stachowitz is 14-over.

Fewer than a handful of players in the region can shoot that close to par in a single round. Still, those scores are less than Kim and Stachowitz are used to.

"I'm a little rusty right now," Kim said. "I'm more in study mode right now."

Stachowitz enjoys being able to let loose a little on the course without worrying about scores.

"There's not that much pressure," Stachowitz said. "I always try to shoot well, but this team is a lot of fun."

With no separate sport for girls last year, Kim played against boys and more than held her own. At first, she wanted to remain on the boys' team, but the Southern Section allowed only those girls who played on coed teams in 1997 to remain with them.

"The boys pushed me to try harder," Kim said. "They are way more competitive."

Kim's attitude changed when she realized the social advantages to spending a few hours a day on the course with her friends.

"There is a lot of friendly chat," she said. "We're all girls, so we can talk about anything."

Kim, 15, and Stachowitz, 13, have fairly extensive golf backgrounds.

Kim, who appeared in one of Nike's "I am Tiger Woods" advertisements in a national magazine, has played golf since she was 8. A member at Woodland Hills Country Club, she made great strides this summer when she tied for 10th at the CIF-SCGA high school match and won the 13-14 age group at the American Junior Golf Assn. Mission Hills tournament--only the second AJGA event she entered. The U.S. Girls' Championship was the icing.

"That was really cool," she said. "I just wanted to make the cut."

Stachowitz, born in England--only a driver and a pitching wedge from golf's birthplace in Scotland--has been playing for 1 1/2 years. She lives within walking distance of Riviera Country Club, where her mother is assistant manager.

In her first year of serious competition, she placed second in an SCPGA event and played in the Junior World Championships in San Diego.

"I try to get out and practice a lot," she said. "In the summer it's every day."

Sometimes bad blood brews on teams with more than one star, but such is not the case for the Wolverines.

"I wouldn't want to compete against her," Stachowitz said. "I would rather us both shoot well."

*

While Harvard-Westlake's depth makes it the runaway for top team in the area, several other teams are beginning to emerge.

Thousand Oaks, led by seniors Kelly Struyck and Sara Pederson, is 4-1 and shot an impressive 128 at Westlake Golf Course (par 34) last Thursday.

Chaminade, with sophomore Katie McLean leading the way, is 4-0 and shot 132 at El Cariso Golf Course (par 31) last Thursday. McLean has been medalist in both the Eagles' double dual matches.

Also playing well for Chaminade is junior Lauren Noecker, who is splitting time between golf and volleyball. Noecker shot 39 at El Cariso.

Harvard-Westlake's score of 120 at Penmar Golf Course (par 35) remains the top score in the area.

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