Lightning rides work ethic to top of SSC golf

Eastview girls have won first three conference meets

Eastview senior Sara Detlefsen has shot 76 or lower in all three South Suburban Conference girls golf tournaments this spring. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

Eastview’s players still like the story about how Maddy Paulsen got herself locked in at Valleywood Golf Course.

Well, maybe Paulsen doesn’t like the story that much, but it helps explain why the Lightning is dominating South Suburban Conference girls golf.

It seems that one evening she was practicing so late that course employees, not realizing she was still there, locked the gate to the entrance road. Paulsen, who had been dropped off at the course, had to walk about a half-mile to McAndrews Road to catch her ride home.

Eastview coach Bob Boldus likes the story, too. Not so much for its comedy potential but for the message it sends to the players: You’ll get out of golf what you put into it.

For the Lightning players, a practice session isn’t over when they putt out on the final hole. It’s then off to the range, or the practice green, to work on shots they didn’t execute on the course.

“That’s how Vijay Singh does it,” said Boldus, referring to a PGA Tour player known for lengthy practice sessions. “(Jack) Nicklaus, too.”

Eastview has been getting a lot out of its game recently. The Lightning won its first four tournaments, including three in the South Suburban Conference to take a commanding lead in the league standings.

Despite a strong first few weeks of the season, the players say they are not satisfied. Eastview won an SSC tournament Monday by 15 strokes, but Boldus said the players weren’t happy with their 330 team score on an unfamiliar CreeksBend course.

“It’s awesome that we’re doing this well,” said senior Sara Detlefsen, who was medalist in the first three conference tournaments, “but I’ve seen how our girls practice and I know their skill sets. We all can shoot several strokes lower.”

“Some of our girls wanted to play a practice round at CreeksBend, but I said no,” Boldus said. “I wanted to see how they responded to playing a course they hadn’t played before.”

Eastview qualified for the state Class 3A tournament two years ago, finishing sixth. The only girl who played in the 2010 state tourney and is still with the Lightning is Detlefsen, who finished second individually that year. Detlefsen, whose older sister Katie won four state Class A championships at Minnehaha Academy, is third in this week’s Minnesota Golf Association high school individual rankings.

But she can turn in only one score, and the Lightning needs at least four to be a contending team.

“This year we have five girls who can shoot in the 70s and 80s,” Paulsen said. “Last year we weren’t as consistent.”

Detlefsen had a 74.33 scoring average in three South Suburban tournaments, more than eight strokes better than the next lowest average. Paulsen, sophomore Kari Opatz, junior Madi Roe and senior Lydia Jorgenson are fourth through seventh, and all their averages are below 90. Tylor Christensen, an eighth-grader, is in the No. 6 spot on the Eastview varsity.

The Lightning can clinch the conference championship outright by finishing sixth or higher in the final South Suburban Conference tournament May 23 at Heritage Links in Lakeville.

Detlefsen, who will play at Florida Gulf Coast University next year, is a veteran of the summer junior tournament circuit. Others, Boldus said, played a lot last summer, but not necessarily competitively.

“In the summer, some of us play by ourselves or with friends,” Jorgenson said. “It’s a bit different when you’re playing with girls from other schools who are checking out your game.”

Opatz said the Lightning, as a group, is hitting the ball longer this spring. The benefit of power cannot be understated in golf. Longer tee shots mean players are hitting shorter clubs into greens, leading to more greens reached in regulation and more birdie putts.

Eastview is seventh in the MGA all-enrollment-class team rankings. With the Lightning still undefeated, Boldus said it was a good time to talk about managing expectations. He said he wants to make sure the players don’t have unrealistic expectations for themselves.

“If your average is 82, that means you might make about 10 bogeys,” the coach said. “And that’s OK. We need to make sure the girls don’t get upset about making a bogey, or even a double bogey. They have to play one shot, one hole, one match at a time.”

Eastview’s biggest test so far this season might come Tuesday at the Red Wing Invitational at Mississippi National, which is expected to draw many of the state’s top-ranked teams.

“That’s going to be a great opportunity for us,” Detlefsen said.