HANNIBAL – Golf was a social sport, if anything, for Raegan Robertson.
She estimates she golfed four or five times a year, and usually because it was a way to celebrate a holiday like Father's Day.
She figured that's all the more she would play golf. That was until Hannibal announced last spring it was going to field a girls golf program for the first time in the fall, when Robertson would be a senior.
“I golfed occasionally with my parents, so I was kind of familiar with it,” Robertson said. “But I wasn't that good. But I was still excited, and my grandpa even got me golf lessons. I'm just really excited I got to experience this.”
The hope is this year's first group of Pirate golfers can lay the foundation for more golfers to enjoy it.
Hannibal fielded interest last school year to see if there would be enough draw to create a program. Enough girls showed interest to offer the sport, and the Pirates currently have eight golfers in the program.
Hannibal has offered a boys golf team for years, and has been successful in advancing to state meets several times this decade.
Replicating that success with the girls program is the goal. However, this year's golfers realize that isn't going to happen in the program's first season.
They're OK with that.
“We're kind of like the test run,” Robertson said. “But I've seen a lot of us improve over the season. It's been really fun to see.”
They know they're the trail blazers for the program.
“We have a bunch of new girls that have never played golf,” senior golfer Riley Carlson said. “This year isn't about the competition or winning. We're just trying to do our best.”
Coach Patricia Carmitchel has stuck to that approach for the season. As a coach, she's also been flexible with work schedules and other obligations while the program continues to grow.
She hopes that draws more girls out in future seasons.
“I'm very competitive, so for the focus to be on the fun was an eye-opening challenge for me, too,” Carmitchel said. “I hope I've done a good job, and I hope more girls come out to play.”
She has her selling pitch ready, too.
“I tell people there's no wind sprints in golf,” she said. “That's what my dad always used to tell me.”
Carmitchel says she's heard growing interest in the hallways at Hannibal, and she anticipates more golfers next season.
If that's the case, then the first season of Hannibal girls golf can be deemed a success.
“Looking back at Day 1, I'm very pleased with where we are today,” Carmitchel said. “We're making contact more often, and the know what a good shot feels like. We're working on different points of the swing and advance as we go.”