Fox Valley Lutheran’s Kayla Priebe kept up a high level of play throughout the girls’ golf season and stepped up even more in the postseason.
At a glance
Year in school: Junior.
Family: Father, Dennis; mother, Kris; sister, Erika, 14.
The scorecard: Averaged 39.39 on the season. Tied for second at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament with scores of 80-77–157 and helped Fox Valley Lutheran take second as a team. Named third-team all-state by the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin. Placed third at the Denmark Sectional with an 80 and was medalist at the Little Chute Regional with a one-over 71. Was medalist at Eastern Valley Conference meet with an 80. Shot a 34 this fall to set a nine-hole EVC record. Earned co-Player of the Year honors in the EVC. Took first at the Metro and Waupaca invitationals.
What’s in the bag: TaylorMade Rocketballz driver, Ping four-wood, 20- and 23-degree Ping hybrids, four through nine Ping irons, Ping pitching wedge, sand wedge and gap wedge, Yes! putter, Titleist Pro-V1 golf balls.
Q: How do you sum up your season?
A: “I’d say, in conference, I sort of was getting warmed up at the invites. I shot around 80 in all of them, so that was pretty decent. In our nine-hole conference meets, I had some really good days and some bad days. But, in the postseason, I was really at the top of my game. I peaked at the right time.”
Q: You went from a tie for 15th place last year at the state tournament to a tie for second and improved by 20 strokes. How do you explain your success?
A: “It is a really big jump. I think part of it this year was working with Tim DeSormeau — he’s my swing coach — and I worked with him a lot on my short game. I hit a lot of 50-, 60- and 70-yard shots and it helped a ton. Just my confidence this year, too. Last year, we played a different course (for the state tournament, Cherokee Country Club) and I was still a little unsure of myself. This year, I was ready to come in and show I’m one of the best golfers in the state.”
Q: How much has your competition with Xavier’s Mikayla Smith made you a better player?
A: “The main thing is she really pushed me to play well all season. I expect the best from myself and she’s a really good player and, not that there aren’t a lot of good players in the Valley, but there’s not a huge competition. Mikayla normally shoots right around the same score — and we were co-players of the year, so we shot exactly the same score — but I know I have to bring my A game if I want to beat her, which I always do. That was fun.”
Q: Both you and Mikayla shot a 34 this year to set an Eastern Valley nine-hole record. What’s it like to shoot under par?
A: “It’s so much fun to go out there and play. It feels amazing because, every hole, you get up to the tee with a ton of confidence and you know you’re going to play it exactly how it’s supposed to be. Hit the fairway, hit the green and have a lot of birdie putts. It was a great experience.”
Q: When you’re playing well, how hard is it not to look ahead?
A: “That is one of the hardest things for me. When I had my 34, it’s hard not to focus on what the end result might be. You have to take each hole individually and I’m trying to work on that more.”
Q: Who’s in your dream foursome?
A: “Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson — I’d love to see him hit his driver — and Rory McIlroy.”
Q: What’s the hardest thing about golf?
A: “I think it’s definitely the mental side. Physically, you can practice a ton and get yourself ready. But you have to be mentally tough in competition. At state, we had bad weather on the second day and you can’t let that get in your head. If you have a bad hole, you’ve just got to keep going. If I have a bad hole, I tell myself ‘I know I can play better than that.’ I make myself reboot and play my best golf.”
Q: Where do you need to improve the most?
A: “I would still probably say my short game. At state, especially, I missed a few putts I should have made. My chipping, definitely, left something to be desired. I need to work on that a lot.”
Q: What do you enjoy more, practicing or playing?
A: “I like playing more, just for me. If you’re practicing and hit a bad shot, it doesn’t mean anything other than it looks really bad. If you’re on the course and hit a bad shot, it could still turn out good or you could still make a par or a birdie, and that’s fun for me. But I do plenty of both.”
Q: What are your goals for the next year?
A: “I haven’t thought too much about that. Obviously, I want to get back to state and I would love to place higher than I did this year. That will be tough. We’ll see. I’m also really excited for our team next year. I think we’ll have a really good team, and we’ll definitely be solid and, hopefully, we can get back to state.”
Q: Being a golfer, how do you view winter?
A: “Well, right now, I’m looking forward to some time off and having some free time, focus on school and getting a job. I’m hoping to do some practice indoors, whether it’s putting in the basement or hitting into a net. But I’m looking forward to my time off, and am looking forward to next spring, too.”
TV show: “To be honest, I don’t watch a lot of TV.”
Movie: “Pitch Perfect.”
Golfer: “I would have to say Phil Mickelson just because he’s just a great guy on the course and off. I just really like him.”
Golf course: “University Ridge. It’s so grand. Standing in the clubhouse and looking out, it’s all so pretty. I also like how the front and back nine are different styles. That’s kind of fun.”
School subject: “Math.”
Dish mom makes: “I really like her homemade macaroni and cheese.”