That’s a phrase that Alyssa Price said she’s heard a lot from her golf coach at West Forsyth, Jimmy McMullen, who is also director of golf instruction at Salem Glen Country Club in Clemmons.
If only she’d started sooner.
Price, an 18-year-old senior, picked up a golf club for the first time the summer after her sophomore year, shortly after deciding that she was done with playing soccer. Fifteen months later, she found herself qualifying for last week’s NCHSAA Class 4-A state tournament at Pinehurst No. 3.
“Jimmy tells me all the time, he wished I’d started playing maybe my freshman or sophomore year,” Price said. “But golf is just hard to play in high school if you can’t drive. You’ve got to get people to take you to practice, to home matches, then your parents have to come pick you up.
“I feel like it’s difficult for freshmen and sophomores to always ask people for rides. If practice had been at school, if you could just stay after school, it would be different.”
Late in her sophomore year, playing on the Titans’ JV soccer team but growing tired of the sport, especially after suffering a concussion, Price talked to a friend in a Spanish class, Kari Wilson, who played for the Titans’ golf team.
She found out the basics, went to some preseason workouts, talked to McMullen a couple of times, but didn’t really pick up a club in earnest until Aug. 1, the first day of practice before her junior year. By that time, she could drive on the streets. Pretty soon, she learned to drive off the tee box.
“She turned to golf and decided to play full time,” McMullen said. “She’s a very good athlete who took up a new sport and was good at it. She hits the ball very well; she’s very long off the tee. Her tee-to-green game is great.”
The real work began after that first season. Price made golf a part of her daily routine during the summer, either at the range or on the course.
“At the beginning of my senior year, I knew what I was doing. Jimmy would change minor stuff like my grip, to help my game. I could tell I’d improved,” she said. “I was a well-rounded athlete who had played a lot of sports, and a lot of it just came naturally.”
Price opened the season shooting a 50, but she shot an 86 at the regional in Mooresville and qualified for the state tournament.
“I was surprised at how much better I got,” she said. “I think I can improve (in the future) as much as I already have. I think my scores would improve more if I could play (for West) another year.”
— Dan Kibler