Taylor Ritchie isn’t changing her approach as she prepares for her first appearance in the girls state golf tournament next week in Bowling Green.
“I’m just acting like it’s just another tournament that I’m playing in,” she said. “I’m not going to get caught up (in the atmosphere).”
Ritchie will tee off at 7:27 a.m. Tuesday on No. 10, along with Fairview junior Amber Greene and sixth-grader Maddie Hensley of Henry County. Ritchie is scheduled to participate in a practice round Monday and is anxious to step back on the course.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” she said.
In the regional tournament, Ritchie “stayed out of trouble,” which contributed to her performance. She added a similar outing will be beneficial in order to advance in the state event.
“I have to stay in the (fairways) and hit all of my shots straight,” she said. “If I stay out of trouble, that will help a lot.”
She did just that last week and has been improving in all phases of the game. Clark coach Ann Baldwin said Ritchie’s chipping and putting has gotten better.
“Her chipping, especially has improved,” she said. “She also has straightened out her drive, and if she can keep it that way, she’ll be in good shape.”
Ritchie also has improved around the green.
“My putting has improved and I can really tell a difference in my aim,” she said. “I just didn’t think about it as much and just let whatever happens just happen.”
The Bowling Green Country Club resembles the Winchester Country Club, in style and tradition. Baldwin said Bowling Green is “an old course and has a lot of trees.”
“It’s an old course,” Baldwin said. “It’s similar to (the) Winchester (Country Club), except it’s longer and Bobby (Baldwin) said the fairways and rough are all bermuda, and he said it’s pretty tough.”
Despite the challenging layout of the course, Baldwin said the similarities between the two courses could be beneficial for Ritchie.
“Having the familiarity of the bermuda fairways will definitely help her,” the Clark coach said. “She’s pretty good around the trees and if she can stay out of them, that will be even better.”
The addition of Ritchie into the state field also gives Clark’s program more recognition across the state. Led by Ritchie’s outing, the Lady Cards finished fourth in the region behind winner Mason County, Scott County and Pendleton County.
“Every year, we’ve gotten closer to the other teams that are in our region, and this year we felt like we made huge improvements,” Baldwin said. “We got close to Pendleton County, but there’s still a gap and unfortunately, they (Mason and Scott County) don’t have any seniors, and neither does Pendleton, but we don’t have any seniors playing in our top five, so we have improved just as much as they had.”