As members of the Healdsburg High School (HHS) girls golf team, we know first-hand what it is like to play a sport during the pandemic. Girls golf was one of the first sports at the high school permitted to begin holding in-person practices after almost a year of being told to stay inside. In late January, we received a text from our coach, Hannah Mae Cronin, announcing the first practice of the season at Tayman Park Golf Course, news that gave us hope of a transition back to normal school life.
“Golf is probably one of the easier sports to play during COVID, but I mean, it for sure is different,” Cronin said. “COVID protocols are heavily enforced before and during practice, as both players and coaches are required to wear masks, stay six feet apart and have their temperatures checked each day. Besides these necessary changes, practice functions just as it would during normal times, as we hit balls, putt and get in some much-needed social time after long days of schoolwork. We are also able to play the full nine-hole course at least once a week in preparation for our competitive matches.”
Because of COVID-19, matches are played in tournaments, in contrast to last year’s one-on-one style. This means that every team in theleague plays one course at the same time rather than splitting up the teams for matches of their own. Because of this, our league, the North Bay League Redwood Division, only has four matches this year. The other schools in the league areEl Molino, Analy and Ukiah. Normally, we would also compete against Piner and St. Vincent’s but they don't have teams this year.
After losing our first match of the season against Ukiah, our team knows it has many skills to improve on.
“One of the things that everybody needs to work on is actually practicing in the off-season,” Cronin advised. “This includes playing the course, and not just during practice. Last year we had apretty rough season, as we had to forfeit almost every match. The matches we didn’t forfeit, we lost. This year, however, there is optimism in the air, as our number of players has increased from seven to nine,” she added.
Cronin also mentioned that one of the factors in the NBL this season is competitive equity.
“This season all the teams in our league are pretty even, so I feel like we have a pretty good chance,” she said. “Although many of our players are beginners, we have been working harder than ever and are approaching the remainder of the season with a positive outlook.”