Per UIL rules, any high school golf team must have at least four members to be considered an official team. The Sealy High School boys’ golf team has five members, giving them the benefit of being able to drop the lowest score in any tournament. On the other side, the girls who have decided to play golf this spring are doing so as individual players.
Senior Paige Moyle and sophomores Maddie Goad and Sloane Strickland are the only three members of the Sealy girls’ golf team. For them, the added pressure of competing as individual players hasn’t affected how they play their game.
“It’s definitely different because if you play a bad hole, we used to be able to shrug it off and assume someone else on the team had a good score but now that it’s just us, there’s some more pressure but we still stick together and make sure we compete at our best level,” Moyle said.
Goad added that the group functions as a team even if they’re not recognized as such.
“We always comfort each other and we know we’re there for one another,” she said.
Head Coach Lonnie Goad said the challenge of not having a full team is something he’s facing for the first time in his long coaching career.
“I’ve coached basically everything except for soccer and with power lifting, you’re never too worried about creating a team so this is the first time I’ve really seen something like this,” Lonnie Goad said. “We had two more players but one moved and the other decided she didn’t want to play but I’m working on getting a fourth in there.”
Goad said the girls haven’t let the unique obstacle affect how they play or interact – something the players attribute to their long time playing together.
“We’ve known each other since junior high so we’ve always been close and it was weird because our first tournament was the last ‘first’ for Paige,” Maddie Goad said.
Strickland, who had to sit out the first few weeks of the season due to illness, played her first on Feb. 20 in Columbus.
“I did OK but I’m happy to be back and playing with them again,” she said. “[I] wish the weather could’ve been a little better.”
The girls said the bus rides to the five tournaments they’ve played in so far have been the best times they’ve spent together as a team.
“I would definitely say those have been the most fun and both the boys and girls teams drive on the same bus so that’s fun to spend time with them,” Moyle said.
Moyle pointed out one challenging aspect of playing as individuals rather than the team as they previously had.
“When you’re playing as a team, if you have a bad day then it’s not the end of the world because your teammates have your back most of the time but as individuals, you’re competing against each other,” she said.
After the regular season is complete, only two individual players, known as “medalists,” are allowed to compete in the regional tournament in late April. The two medalists do not have to be from the same school and can be from any school in the district.
Despite this inherent competition with each other, the girls have continued to support each other and for Moyle, even if they don’t get a fourth member before the season is done, it will still be a valuable senior season for her.
“I really hope we get that fourth person to make a team but even if we don’t, we’re still having fun and it hasn’t really changed the dynamic between us,” she said.