LOVELAND – Last season Katie Hallinan was sixth in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference standings in golf with a nine-hole average of 40.
It was a pretty impressive accomplishment considering she was playing with the Walnut Hills High School boys team. That same average would have placed her third among ECC girls behind Milford’s Megan Creager and Alexandra Swayne of Kings, who had shorter paths to the hole.
The competition helped Hallinan when the postseason came and she competed as a individual with the area’s best girls. The Loveland resident made the state tournament as a freshman and finished 16th.
“That set her up real good for last year,” Walnut Hills coach Larry Klein said. “This year, we are going to have a girls team. I’m probably going to have three pure beginners. She’ll get to play from the reds (women’s tees) for most of the year.”
While the tee box moves further back come tournament time, Klein estimates the ability to move further up in the regular season could take five to six strokes off her scores this fall.
“She’s booming drives this year,” Klein said. “She’s hitting them 15 yards further. She’s hitting consistently 260 yards plus this year.”
Last season, she often out-drove her male competitors and she usually played with the No. 1 group. She attributes her driving to her long arms and reach as she was recently measured at 5-foot-10.
“It’ll be a lot of fun playing with the girls at the shorter distances,” Hallinan said. “Also, it will be with the same girls I’m competing with at sectionals and districts.”
In June, Hallinan won a Southern Ohio Junior PGA event at The Grizzly Golf Course at Kings Island by shooting a 68 and 74 over two days. Points are accumulated in eight such tournaments over the summer and the Eagle who can eagle could win Player of the Year.
She also carded a second-place finish at a three-day event at and AJGA event at Stonehenge in Indiana with a 72-69-76 and opened July with a charity tournament on the Ohio State course.
Locally, she didn’t play in the Women’s Met with some of the notable high school golfers.
“I had a qualifier for the USGA Junior Girls National Championship,” Hallinan said. “I had a busy June with five tournaments.”
With all of her success in driving a golf ball, Hallinan has just began learning to drive on the roadways. The soon-to-be sophomore just turned 15 in December.
Though she’s young, she’s already on the radar of several schools looking for booming tee shots.
“Recently I’ve been getting more interest,” Hallinan said. “I’ve heard from a couple of Big 10 colleges and I’ve been contacting more of them. The process for golf scholarships is getting earlier and earlier.”
Among the boys last year, Hallinan finished second team ECC as a freshman.