Ashley Long was on fire as she entered the final three holes of a golf match at Lake of the Woods Golf Course last week. With four birdies in the first six frames on her scorecard, it was looking like a good day indeed.
The strong start also felt familiar. The Monticello High School senior had similar results in the first six holes at Hickory Point a week prior, but faltered with a double bogey and a pair of bogeys to card a still very respectable 38.
But at Lake of the Woods on Sept. 1, she finished strong, parring out to record a 33, breaking the school record of 35 held by Evelyn Brand since 2013.
“The week before when I was at Hickory Point I played a very similar game, but I couldn’t really finish my round as well. At Lake of the Woods I finished with three pars. That really helped,” said Long.
Her coach was impressed.
“I would have to say anytime you see a 33 at the high school level, you have to be a bit amazed,” said MHS golf coach Andrew Turner. “Not only the score, but Lake of the Woods is not what I would call an easy course. That made it even more impressive. I was so happy for her breaking the school record and I believe it also set a women’s record at Lake of the Woods. Just hoping now the IHSA will make the right decision and allow Ashley and our other seniors the opportunity to compete in Sectional and State events.
Right now IHSA only has one level of post-season scheduled – opening round regionals. Everything else is up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long is taking the high road, even if 2020 cheats her out of a chance to compete at state.
“I’m still thankful for the opportunity to play this year. I mean, we weren’t expecting to have a season with everything that’s going on, so just getting to play is great. I’m just thankful for every day I’ve spent on the course,” she said.
Her 33 was three under par for the nine-stroke event, which Monticello won over area rival Mahomet-Seymour. Claire Webber added a 39 and Amelia Patterson a 50 as the Lady Bulldogs carded a 177 as a team to beat the host Bulldogs by 32 strokes.
Long is off to a scorching start, routinely shooting in the 30s early in the season. She said the onset of the pandemic, which canceled in-person classes in the spring, might have forced her into some good habits.
“It really encouraged me to start practicing earlier than I would normally start practicing. It was the middle of March and I was in my basement hitting balls. Even though I couldn’t be out on the course, I still had that encouragement to work on it,” said Long.