[Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Brenham Banner-Press on April 11, 2013.]
The first hole at Brenham Country Club is a straightaway par 4. It’s a wide open hole that’s tucked between the eighth and ninth fairways, which gives you plenty of give in case you hit a wayward drive.
Lindsey Redmond, a senior for the Brenham Cubette golf team, stepped on the first tee box Tuesday afternoon and laced a drive that split the fairway and left her 100 yards out on her approach shot.
As I made my way to the tee box, I immediately feel intimidated.
In her final preparation for the District 18-4A tournament, which began Wednesday, Redmond agreed to let me join her as she worked out any last-minute kinks for her final shot to advance beyond district tournament and onto the Region III meet.
Redmond is the first in her immediate family to pick up the game. She first took to the links as a freshman in high school. Back then she was a multi-sport athlete as she focused on swimming, too.
“I was a big swimmer. Swim and golf, they say you use the same muscles, so I thought I’d try (golf),” she said.
But an injury kept her from continuing her swim career. She tore both of her rotator cuffs in her shoulders swimming her freshman year and was forced to give up the water, so she turned all her focus to golf.
On first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell Redmond has only played for four years. She has a confidence about her swing. She has a solid foundation with her stance when she addresses the ball, which sets up her long, arching backswing that generates her power and gives her the ability to hit the ball farther than most girls she plays with. It’s one of the reasons why her driver is her favorite club in her bag.
“I’ve drove two greens this season,” she’s quick to point out.
But it’s more than just power and distance: the ability to sail a ball 30 or more yards past your opponents can strike the smallest dose of fear and provide the slightest hint of intimidation in them, as if to say, I dare you to keep up. In a sport like golf where mental toughness is key, the slightest bit of fear and intimidation can falter your opponent.
As I approached my tee shot on the first hole, Redmond already sitting comfortably in the golf cart, all I could think was, “It’s been awhile since you’ve done this, just don’t top it off the tee.” Intimidated? Sure. But isn’t the first shot of the day always the most nerve-racking? I made solid contact but lost it a right into the ninth hole’s fairway. “Didn’t top it!” I thought.
The wind on Tuesday was brutal, with gusts blowing well beyond 40 mph. The front 9 is mainly wide open and surrounded by acres of farm land, which allows for gusts of wind to blow freely.
Redmond’s ball rested almost exactly at 100 yards out to the green in the middle of the fairway. Her approach shot fell 15 yards short right of the green. With at least a two-club wind blowing behind us, I measured myself at 100 yards out to the hole. My plan was to hit a soft, high sand wedge and let it catch the wind and carry the rest of the way to the green. Instead, I caught it clean, the wind took it and it sailed behind the green.
“I forgot to tell you there’s water behind the green,” she told me as I got back in the cart.
Well played, Redmond.
Before teeing off, she had already spent time on the range making any last minute adjustments to her irons and driver, and before the van left for Porter, Texas — home to Oakhurst Golf Club where the district tournament was being held — later that afternoon, she was going to be sure she spent some time on the practice green chipping and putting, too.
Her short game is an area where she said she used to excel, but when she got comfortable with it and began focusing on other areas, she lost some of her touch around the green. It’ll be an area that will have to be on if she hopes to accomplish her goal of getting out of district and making it to the Region III meet at Raven Nest Golf Club in Huntsville April 15-16.
She nearly made it as a junior. Competing in one of the toughest districts in the state, according to Brenham coach Earl Hathaway, Redmond fired an opening-day 84 last year to put her in contention to vie for one of the two medalist positions to advance. A second round 90, though, dropped her out of the hunt.
“I just didn’t have a good second day,” she said.
But it’s motivation that she’ll use this year.
“I know I can do it, but it’s just a matter if I can keep my head in the game,” she said.
She’s back competing in one of the toughest districts in the state with Montgomery and Magnolia. Montgomery’s golf team has won the state tournament the past four years.
She wasted no time getting off to a hot start her senior year. In the season-opening tournament at West Fork in Conroe, one filled with talent from Class 5A teams, Redmond shot a 78 to finish in third place. She considers it one of her best rounds she’s played.
“It helped me see my potential in golf,” she said.
Her potential showed Tuesday, as well. She lost her tee shot on the second hole to the right. Her drive found its way into an opening of trees that blocked her approach shot. She made a good recovery shot to the front of the green for an easy chip to the hole.
She again failed to mention water on the hole, which my tee shot happened to find. I became skeptical of her tactics; she clearly held the upper hand.
They became all the more evident on the third hole when, for the third time, she failed to mention water on the left side of the fairway, which my tee ball once again found.
I’m on to you, Redmond.
“Maybe you should play from the back tees,” she suggested.
She once again striped a ball down the middle of the fairway, setting up a great approach shot to the green. It was becoming more and more evident that the driver was one of the best clubs in her bag, and, as she said, distance was one area in which she didn’t lack.
By the end of the fourth hole — a long par 3 we both bogeyed — she said it was time for her to head to the practice green for some quick work before leaving for Porter.
Regardless of how the district tournament turns out for her, her golf career will be far from over. She’s signed to play with the University of Texas at Dallas in the fall.
“I’m really excited about it. There’s going to be a girl from Montgomery playing there, so there’s going to be some competition, but it’ll be good for me. I haven’t had much competition lately,” she said.
I suddenly felt another gust of intimidation hit me as she drove away.