Kate Collom prefers to be on the golf course as much as possible.The Cannon School senior from Davidson admitted she either plays, practices or does both at least six days a week, year-round.“I don’t take many days off the golf course, and I don’t like to. Honestly, it kind of feels weird when I go a day or two without playing,” Collom said, noting that happens only because of bad weather or vacations. “I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without golf.”Collom’s commitment to the game has paid big dividends in the past four years. It’s paid off in her Cannon School career, where she has led her team to back-to-back NCISAA state championships, and in her junior career, where she is ranked No. 19 in the state, according to the Tarheel Youth Golf Association junior rankings.The secret to her success likely comes from the competitive drive that her Cannon golf coach, Pat Whisenant, a 35-plus-year PGA professional, sees in her every day.“Kate is a great competitor,” said Whisenant, noting that she also played for the boys’ team her freshman year. “She wants to beat everybody at everything – whether it’s practice, a match or just hitting balls. That’s why she keeps getting better and better.”She’s put together back-to-back all-state seasons at Cannon. She won the NCISAA state tournament as an individual in her sophomore year. Then she finished tied for second last season, with teammate Anna Redding, in the process of helping the Cougars to repeat team titles.But Collom isn’t satisfied.Adds yardage to driverThis summer, she showed her ambition on the junior circuit, making it to the semifinals of the N.C. Junior Girls’ match-play championships at Bentwinds Golf and Country Club in Fuquay-Varina. She also qualified for the Big I Junior Classic against a national playing field.In the qualifier, Collom followed a first-round 75 with a career-best even-par 71 over 18 holes at Pine Needles in Pinehurst to earn the first-alternate position.Another factor in Collom’s success has been her improved driving distance off the tee. Collom said she has added 20 yards, hitting the ball around 240 to 250 yards on average. That gives her easier second shots, with eight and nine-irons in her hands. For example, Whisenant said, she hit a 236-yard drive uphill onto the green at Cedarwood Country Club recently, a kind of shot he had never seen her hit.Collom’s improvements and success have extended into her senior season. She has already had a strong year, tying a career-best with a 34, 2 under par, in her second match of the year against Charlotte Country Day and Providence Day. In that match, she led her team to a school record 109 (the top three players’ scores combined): Redding shot an even-par 36, and Collom’s younger sister, Annie, shot a 3-over 39.Of course, Collom is always looking to do better.“Our goal as a team is to break 100 (in the top three scores),” Kate said. “I know it won’t be easy, but I feel like if we can all play our best on one day, we can do it.”Tightknit ‘family’For three years now, the Collom sisters, Redding (ranked No. 10 in the state in juniors) and Taylor Bunten have made up the entire Cannon girls’ team. What the group lacks in numbers, they make up as a tight-knit “family” whose members push each other.“Every day at practice, they are all trying to beat each other, and they can,” said Whisenant, noting Kate Collom is the clear leader of group. “They all make each other better, and they really enjoy being with each other in the process. It’s fun just to be a part of the team.”The Cougars have had a lot of fun in high school play in the past two seasons, winning every match but one. They fell to two-time defending 2A state champion Salisbury last year in the regular season, but they hope to avenge that loss this season when they face the Hornets Oct. 3 at the Salisbury Country Club.“All the girls have accomplished a lot,” Whisenant said. “But I think they are just as motivated by what they haven’t done. They are just as hungry this season. “Our goals will be the same: to go undefeated and win the state championship.”While Kate Collom is focused on helping her Cannon team, she also is looking to finalize her decision on where she will pursue her education and play golf in college.Right now, Collom has offers from Presbyterian College in South Carolina and Belmont University in Nashville. She is waiting on a third school, which she doesn’t want to name right now, before she makes her decision. She said that announcement could come within the next couple of weeks.While the pressure of playing for championships and college opportunities can distract some players, Collom said she just focuses on what she can control.“I’m always just trying to focus on the next shot,” Collom said. “If I make a bad shot, I just shake it off and move onto the next shot. I think that is the only way you can be successful.”
Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013
Cannon School golfer is taking her best shot
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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