LIVE OAK — Looking for something new has paid off for both Rachel Howell and the Suwannee High girls’ golf team.
Howell is the Bulldogs’ leader in scoring average and shot the team’s low score in a match Sept. 16 at Quail Heights Country Club against Columbia and Branford. SHS shot a 225 as a team, led by Howell’s 47, finishing second in the tri-meet behind Columbia’s 182. Emily Richards led Branford with a 49, followed by Gabby Saavedra’s 50.
While she averages 44 strokes for a 9-hole round to lead Suwannee — Lindsay Self is second with a 47 average — Howell hasn’t played the game long.
She has been playing golf for only a little more than a year but has played soccer since she was 5. She played middle school soccer for three years and has played two years on the varsity team.
But last season Howell decided to end her soccer career after getting three small broken/fractured bones on the top of her foot from a collision in a game.
Her dad, Clarke Howell, who received a college golf scholarship, got her started in golf.
“I wanted to try something new,” Howell said. “One of the benefits of golf is playing with friends and just having fun out there.”
SHS coach Kim Boatright said Howell played a lot over the summer, and she told every player on the team to sign up for weightlifting.
“Over the summer I played from the men’s tees to improve my distance and to challenge my game,” Howell said. “I improved my short game, and I can go to the 95-yard line and chip onto greens.”
Currently, Howell is working on her distance, and practicing on longer shots, but passed on the weightlifting.
Boatright said Howell has improved her distance and is a balanced player.
“Rachel is good at every facet of the game; she needs reps to get better at her touch (short) game,” she said, adding those skills help prevent the one or two bad holes a round that can ruin a good score.
This is Howell’s second year on the SHS golf team and she will play next year. Her best round this season has been a 38 against Santa Fe at West End Golf Course in Newberry.
She wants to score in the low 40s this year and is seeking a bigger prize.
“My goal is to improve my game and have a chance to get a golf scholarship for college,” she said.
Her next chance to improve comes Thursday when SHS hosts Branford and Columbia in a 4 p.m. tee time at Suwannee Country Club.
Around the links
Drew Bozeman was medalist in a tri-match that the Suwannee boys’ golf team won last week. Bozeman shot 37, his low round for the season, with the team winning with a score of 169 to go 2-0. Madison County shot 197 and Branford finished with a 256.
Suwannee doesn’t have another match until Oct. 3 when it plays St. Francis at Gainesville Country Club.
The Branford boys team went 1-1 in losing to Union County and beating First Coast Christian at Quail Heights Country Club on Sept. 17. Union County’s Nick Laux was medalist with a 40, and Branford’s Cash Blalock was second in individual scores.
Lafayette High golfer Riley Edwards shot 38 in leading the team past Newberry 165-216 at West End Golf Club, which is a par-30 course, in Gainesville last week. Edwards was the low medalist, and Hornet Brent Sullivan was second with a 39. Both are freshmen.