Incoming Pirate senior acknowledges challenge of the course, and overcoming her jitters.

    Any golfer, whether in a high-pressure tournament situation or just out hacking it around the course with some buddies, will tell you that priority #1 when standing over the ball with club in hand is to eliminate as many “swing thoughts” from your mind as possible. Too many swing thoughts dancing around in the head, golf experts and sports psychologists say, and your swing will suffer. Free your mind, and the rest will follow, as En Vogue once famously sang.

    Crookston Pirate golfer Dani Boyle, standing over the ball earlier this week to tee off on her first-ever hole of her first ever round at the State Class AA Girls’ Golf Tournament, played at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, Minnesota, said she was able to eliminate all but one or two swing thoughts from her head as she addressed the ball, while playing in front of a gallery larger than any other she’d ever played in front of. Still, she admits the nerves “kind of took over” on her first tee shot.

    “Don’t go left and mess up,” she said, when asked what swing thoughts she was tormented by at the moment of truth. So what happened? “I messed up and went left,” she said.

    The ball went into the water, but as Pirate Girls’ Golf Head Coach Jeff Perreault noted, Boyle was able to scramble for an impressive bogey on the first hole.

    Boyle, a junior, who rallied with an 84 on day two at the Section 8AA Girls’ Golf Tournament at Bemidji Town & Country Club last week and in the process became the final qualifier for the state individual tournament, carded a 92 on day one at Ridges. While she hoped for a second-day rally at state remindful of her day-two performance in Bemidji, Boyle turned in a 97 on day two. Her total score of 189, 45 over par over the two days, put her in 52nd place overall.

    Ridges at Sand Creek is beautiful and scenic, but it’s also a long, tough slog, which is probably why the Minnesota State High School League holds state golf tournaments there every year. It’s lengthy, hilly, and there are hazards aplenty. Boyle said that before last week, she’d only played the course once before, either in eighth or ninth grade.

    “The walk is long; it’s a mentally and physically draining course,” Perreault said.

    Boyle agreed. The libero on the Pirate volleyball team and point guard on the Pirate girls’ basketball team acknowledged getting a bit worn out as her two rounds at state dragged on. Choosing a push cart for her bag and clubs instead of slinging it all over her shoulder, she said it’s the length of the course that sets Ridges apart. “It’s just how long it takes to golf it,” she said. “It’s a lot of work.”

    Even though she’d never advanced to state golf before, Boyle said that if someone would have told her at the beginning of the season that she would make state and finish 52nd overall, she wouldn’t have been totally satisfied with that outcome. “I’d want to do better than that,” she said.

    Which is exactly what she’ll be looking to do next spring, when as a senior she’ll be the Pirate girls’ top returner and experienced leader of the team.

    “I hope I can finish higher than this year,” Boyle said. “You always want to improve.”