The first Middle School golf program in Hockaday’s history wraps up its inaugural year
Between 3:45 and 4:45 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the average age of the crowd at the North Texas Golf Center or the Luna Vista Golf Course, both in Dallas, shifts down appreciably. Though they don’t have a true uniform, seven girls in golf attire move through the course in a group, surprising the usual retirement-age golfers with their skill.
The reason the other golfers might be so surprised? This group is a Middle School golf team, the only current program in the fall Southwest Preparatory Conference.
The inaugural fall team completed its first season the week of Oct. 28. The girls, who started the program with a range of abilities, worked on swing mechanics as well as the rules and etiquette of competitive golf throughout the season. They also participated in internal competitions that simulated the formats of the professional Ryder Cup tournament.
“This is a format that represents competitive formats in varsity and college level golf,” said head coach Chris Lagow, who is also the head coach of the varsity team at Hockaday in the spring.
Eighth-grader Kate Fundis was a member of this fall golf team. “In addition to learning how to golf better, we’re learning the rules and how playing with other people works, so I think it’s really good to get that experience now,” Fundis said.
Because this was the first time Hockaday has offered a Middle School golf program, Lagow added that she was “pleased with the turnout for the first time we’d ever had it.”
“It’s great to play with other girls because you can kind of compare and learn with them,” Fundis said. She had played golf in camps over the summer for several years and plays most weekends with her father and brother, but she had never been a part of a team before.
Senior Alexandra Villareal, who has been a member of the varsity golf team since freshman year, is glad that these Middle School golfers are getting experience in a team setting before high school. “I think that playing on a team is different than playing by yourself,” Villareal said. “Sometimes people are going to tell you things that go against what you’ve been taught, and you have to learn to get used to that.”
Villareal hopes that many of these girls will continue golfing in Upper School. “Having a bigger team will be nice because we won’t have to play in every tournament,” she said. “The last two years, we’ve had a really small group, so I’ve been gone every Monday in April, plus some in February and March and SPC. It’s really hard to keep up with academics that way.”
As the team wraps up its inaugural year, Lagow will be looking to see what changes need to be made. One change that might be tried in the future, she said, is testing the program in the spring, though she qualified this statement with many reasons why the fall program worked better.
“A lot of the feedback from this program will be now going to the other schools once we’ve completed our first season,” Lagow said earlier this fall.
Lagow plans to meet with the varsity coaches at various area schools to discuss the program, with the hope that some of them will follow Hockaday’s lead. The Episcopal School of Dallas will be starting a middle school program this spring.
Though Lagow will be able to tweak the program in the future, she is happy with the way it has gone this first year.
“My understanding from the girls is one of they are much more excited about their golf, they seem inspired to continue to develop their golf and play together more often as a team, and also outside of the team,” she said, “And they are very prepared for what a varsity season in this sport might be about.
– Emily Wechsler