The 2017-18 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Golf Teams were selected based on performance and level of competition primarily at the high school level. Junior golf success was a secondary consideration, and those who did not compete regularly for their high school were not considered. Players from states that play in the fall or spring were eligible for selection.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Dennis Burchill, Lake Mary (Fla.)
RELATED: ALL-USA Boys Golf Teams
Name: Rachel Heck
School: St. Agnes Academy (Memphis, Tenn.)
Golf is an impossible game to master. No one wins every tournament. No one birdies every hole. Seriously, even a round of 59—the holy grail of golf—means someone left 41 strokes out on the course.
Rachel Heck is seemingly challenging that notion. No, the sophomore at St. Agnes Academy (Memphis, Tenn.) doesn’t win every time she steps out on the course. But if she’s not winning, she’s always in contention. And that kind of consistency earns Heck her second straight AFI ALL-USA Player of the Year award.
In high school golf, Heck does always win. She crushed the field at the Tennessee Division II, Class AA state tournament for a second straight year with her two-round total of six-under-par 138 besting the field by 11 strokes. That followed a round of 63 to win the regional tournament a week earlier.
But Heck’s dominance transcends high school golf. The youngest player at the 2017 U.S. Open at 15 years old, Heck wasn’t just happy to be there. She finished the tournament at 2-over-par, tied for 33rd place with, among others, Lydia Ko, a two-time major winner and former World No. 1 who is still just 21 years old.
Heck won all three of her matches at the PING Junior Solheim Cup, helping Team USA beat its rival from Europe. In March, she won the Kathy Whitworth Invitational, one of the top American Junior Golf Association tournaments.
Those are the wins, which are easy to appreciate. But what makes Heck such a superior talent are her near-misses. Just a few weeks after going toe-to-toe with pros at the U.S. Open, she finished third in the Canadian Women’s Amateur. A few weeks after winning the Whitworth Invitational, she placed fifth at the ANA Junior Inspiration. At the Thunderbird International Junior in late May, she finished second.
It’s little wonder that Heck is ranked No. 2 in the country by the American Junior Golf Association or that she was the 2017 Rolex Junior Golfer of the Year. Week after week, tournament after tournament, with a target on her back, Heck goes out and produces. Every. Single. Time.
“She handles that pressure with grace, seeming just to focus on her game,” St. Agnes coach Cynthia Giannini said about Heck. “She lets the scores speak for themselves.”
LOOKBACK: 2016-17 ALL-USA Girls Golf Teams