Prep girls' golf: Bingham faces challenge in bid for latest title
After winning the last four state girls' golf titles, Bingham likely won't be the favorite when the Class 5A golf tournament tees up Monday at Bountiful Ridge Golf Course.
The Miners lost four seniors off last year's title team, which beat Davis by one shot, including medalist Serene Blair. Region rival Alta has been beating Bingham this year, and the Darts, Weber and Lone Peak figure to be in the mix.
But if the Bingham streak ends, it won't be for lack of hard work by coach Elizabeth Conry and top golfer Sam Crawford, who finished last year's state meet tied for second with Davis' Jessica Sloot behind Blair. Sloot is back again this year.
"There is a lot of pressure to continue the tradition that we've had the past four years," said Crawford, who first picked up a club when she was 6 years old but began getting serious about competitive golf when her family moved from Tacoma, Wash., to Utah seven years ago. "We've struggled without Serene, but we're holding on. With coach Conry having us work as hard as we do and having us push ourselves to the best our abilities, we've been able to bring it home the last couple of years. She has been a great influence on all of the girls."
Crawford said she has spoken with Bingham golfers who have gone to play in college and discovered that Conry offers better and more coaching.
"She comes out and watches us hit," said Crawford. "If she notices something, she points it out. She does the same with chipping and putting. Assistant Brett Boberg is out there to watch and correct any kinks that might be found in our swing."
Conry played softball and basketball and ran track in high school and is an avid triathlete and mountain biker. She didn't take up golf until she was 19 years old, and then only for fun.
So how has she developed such a successful program?
"I go on the Internet and read books year after year," she said. "I talk to golf pros, attend clinics and do anything I can to better this program."
Part of that involves hard work. The team practices at its home course, River Oaks, about two or three hours every day. Swings and scorecards are analyzed. Practice is held in good weather and in bad. Conry also organized a fall league for any high school girls who want to play, she runs workouts in the winter, and encourages her players to participate in at least five junior golf tournaments in the summer.
Crawford, for example, has played Utah junior golf as well as on the Rocky Mountain junior golf tour. She has earned a scholarship to play for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
"I've been playing some great golf this year, shooting about six over on 18 holes, which is the majority of where it's been," she said. "I had a rough time the last time out, but I will get it fixed and start shooting in the 70s."
Other top Bingham players this year include Brooke Meldrum, Chandler Grundmann, McKenna Swapp, Emily Action and Courtney Howard. Like Crawford, Grundmann and Meldrum are seniors.
Crawford said losing Blair and three other seniors will make a fifth straight title difficult this year. But she remains optimistic.
Golf can be a fickle sport and, on any given day, a hot team or golfer can turn in a surprise.
Girls' golf state tournaments
Class 5A • Monday at Bountiful Ridge.
Defending champion: Bingham
Class 4A • Wednesday at East Bay, Provo.
Defending champion: Box Elder
Class 3A • Wednesday at Mt. View, West Jordan.
Defending champion: Desert Hills
Class 2A • Wednesday at the Cove, Richfield.
Defending champion: Richfield
Class 1A • Wednesday at Southgate, St. George.
Defending champion: St. Joseph