There’s a troubling trend in girls’ golf in the Big East Conference.
Rocky Mount High, Nash Central and Southern Nash each have only three golfers each this season.
Northern Nash doesn’t have a single girl on its roster, although coach Rick Ruffin hopes that changes once school starts Monday.
Numbers always have been a problem for girls’ golf programs in the area, but the trend is growing worse and worse with each passing year.
Still, a champion must be decided, and although their numbers are low, the Bulldogs appear to have a strong chance of challenging Wilson Fike.
“I’ve got a team that can put a number on the board,” Bulldogs coach Randy Davis said.
Right now, that’s a positive. In all likelihood, the Big East Conference is Wilson Fike’s to lose. Beyond that, it’s really anyone’s guess.
“It could be very interesting from week to week,” said Southern Nash coach Jeff Flowers, who believes his team will contend for a top-3 position. “It’s probably going to be Fike and whoever shows up ready to roll on that day. Home courses could finally mean a lot.”
Along with the Big East, Tarboro’s Katie King will return for her final season after winning the Telegram All-Area Golfer of the Year each of the past two years. After a regional runner-up and a seventh-place finish at the NCHSAA 1-A/2-A state championship, she’ll aim a little higher this year.
Ali Martin returns for Rocky Mount in her final season to lead a team with an outside shot at making the regional tournament. Alexis Barrett, who qualified for the regional tournament last year, will lead a Southern Nash squad without a senior.
“Everybody seems to be in the start over mode with the exception of Fike,” Flowers said. “It’s Fike’s championship to lose. … When it comes to golf experience, they are far better off than everybody else.”
Nash Central’s top duo of Hannah Sasser and Sara Joyner, both sophomores, has Davis thinking the Bulldogs could make some noise in the conference.
“I’m real encouraged about getting into it,” Davis said. “I wish I had about two or three more girls. At this point, it is what it is.”
Senior Kaley Price, who is playing golf for the first time, is the third member of the team, but Davis said that both Sasser and Joyner have gone through double-digit stroke average drops after competing this summer.
Sasser played at Wake Forest, while Joyner, who nearly qualified for the state championship as an individual last year, competed in a summer league at Birchwood Country Club.
“The enthusiasm that is already there is priceless,” Davis said.