University City

Sibling rivalry pushes Cougar duo to improve

Sisters Annie and Kate Collom have grown up doing just about everything together, being only 16 months apart in age.

One of the greatest bonds has been formed on the golf course, where they both became regular competitors when they were 9 years old.

Kate, 16, is a sophomore standout for Cannon and is also ranked No. 50 in the state in the latest Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA) rankings.

Annie, 14, is only a freshman for the Cougars, but already has vaulted up the junior rankings as No. 76 in the TYGA's latest poll that includes many high school seniors and even rising college freshmen.

"Kate and Annie work well together, and I think they also push each other to get better at the same time," said Cannon golf coach Jim Venos. "I think having each other to practice and play with is a big advantage. They are competitive and they definitely don't like losing to each other."

Kate is a five-handicap who drives the ball about 200 yards off the tee and has a solid short game with a great putter. Kate, an all-conference golfer, has also played on the Cannon boys' team in the spring, consistently shooting in the mid 80s to rank among the team's top players.

Annie, who has between a seven and eight handicap, is "quite a bit longer" off the tee at an average of 225 yards per drive, but has struggled with consistency at times in her game.

"Kate has helped make me the player that I am because I have always had someone to look up to," Annie said. "I've always wanted to be able to beat her and be better than her."

While Kate and Annie compete with each other a lot in private, they also play year-round in junior tournaments for most of the spring and summer, including several Carolina Golf Association, TYGA and Peggy Kirk Bell tour events.

But the Collom sisters will get a new experience this fall, when they become teammates on their high school team.

This is only the third year Cannon has fielded a golf team. After having the just three girls in the program in 2009, Venos and company expect to have as many as eight girls this year. The Colloms should have a lot of help with fellow junior standouts Anna Redding and Taylor Bunten.

Girls' golf is also growing in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association, as the organization has recognized it as an official sport and will hold a state championship for the first time this season.

"We're all very excited about playing for a conference, and then possibly a state championship," said Kate. "I think it's going to be a great experience for us to play in these events."

Whatever the Cannon girls accomplish this year will have a lot to do with how well Kate and Annie play, said Venos. No matter what her team does, Kate will want to beat Annie on the golf course.

"You never want to lose to your younger sister, so that is something I think about," said Kate. "I win most of the time, but she does beat me sometimes."

The sibling rivalry fuels Annie's game to get better.

"Kate has been always been better than me growing up," said Annie. "But I am always trying to catch her and beat her."