Robinson golfer looks to revisit state tourney

In the past two seasons, Jay M. Robinson High golfer Emily Davis has set school milestones while playing on two distinct teams.

In 2013, she was a junior on a seven-player squad with four seniors. Davis became the first player in program history to qualify for a state championship tournament.

This year, two of Robinson’s five golfers are high school rookies. But Davis has set a high standard for her teammates by earning medalist honors in a regular season match, also a Bulldogs’ program first.

As Robinson continues its MECKA 8 conference schedule, Davis has her sights set on another visit to the 4A state championship tournament as she contemplates her interest in playing collegiately.

Davis started playing golf five years ago when her mother, Celeste, dragged her to Rocky River Golf Course to take up a sport she thought would be fun for the entire family. Davis’ father, Ritchie, played recreationally, but not enough to interest his middle-school-aged daughter.

But that day, Davis met Floyd Gragg, a PGA instructor who had served as Rocky River’s director of golf for 13 years.

“I fell in love with Coach Gragg,” Davis said. “After the first lesson, I felt I had a little bit of athletic ability with golf.”

Davis grew to love golf and went out for Robinson’s team as a freshman. She mostly scored in the lower 50s over nine holes that year, which was good enough to qualify for regionals. The next year, Gragg became the Robinson head coach.

By that time, Davis convinced herself that she might be good enough to play in college one day. She admits the extra pressure she put on herself had an adverse effect. Davis qualified for regionals again, but she did not find herself improving.

Robinson returned to 4A in 2013, and Davis had a breakout season in 2013. Her stroke average in conference play was 47, which was good enough for an eighth place ranking, an all-conference nod and a regional qualification.

At regionals, Davis finished in the top 25 and qualified for the state tournament, which was held at Pinehurst No. 6.

“It was a great experience to enjoy the success that I had,” Davis said. “It encouraged me to work harder so I can make it to states again this year.”

Meredith Julian, last year’s team MVP, and three other seniors graduated after the season. Returning to this year’s squad are senior Sophie Bean and sophomore Caroline Hastings. Newcomers are sophomore McKenzie Arstark and Mikki Louman, a 16-year-old senior foreign exchange student from Schoonhoven, The Netherlands.

Louman is too young to have a driver’s license in her native country, but she’s old enough to drive a golf cart in America.

She arrived in Concord on Aug. 24, the day before school started. Louman’s host family contacted Gragg about her playing on the golf team, thinking it played in the spring.

“I knew how to swing,” Louman said, “but it was not a good swing.”

The MECKA 8’s dominant team is Hough, but Robinson is in position to compete for second. And Davis, currently ranked third individually, could make a push for a conference championship.

On Sept. 8, Davis shot a career-best 41 at The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis to finish first individually among six teams from the MECKA 8. Her current stroke average is 43. Bean is second on the team at 51.5.

Davis says she will be attending Wingate University and is interested in studying biology. She added that she’s been invited to try out for the school’s golf team but is unsure whether she wants to make that commitment.