The Union Grove golf squad poses at sectionals. (Submitted/SLN)

 

By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

How many years of dedication to the sport does it take for a high school golfer to make it to state?

For Union Grove sophomore golfer Veronica Parco it only took 18 months.

Parco started playing golf in the summer after eighth grade just to tag along with her golfing friends.

Less than two years later Union Grove golfers tagged along with Parco while she played the historic University Ridge Golf Course at the WIAA Division 1 State Golf Tournament.

Parco tied for 40th overall with a two-day total of 31-over-par 175 Monday/Tuesday Oct. 8-9.

Not too shabby for a golfer with a year and a half of experience.

“It went pretty good overall,” Parco said. “I hit the ball really well but putting was a little bit shaky, so I’m looking forward to working on it this offseason.”

It is almost expected that an inexperienced sophomore golfer would battle nerves on Wisconsin High School’s biggest golf stage, but Parco seemed unfazed by the gravity of the moment.

Parco calmly walked up to the tee box on her first hole of the tournament and pierced the narrow fairway with a pinpoint drive.

“I heard the fairways at University Ridge were known for being narrow, so I was focusing hard on getting it to the green,” Parco said. “It really went well through all the narrow fairways and didn’t get into to trouble with my driver and irons, but it was just my putting that was the problem.”

Parco struggled reading the greens that were oversaturated with water from heavy rains in recent days.

“I think the greens have always been faster there, but the rain definitely impeded my progress with putting,” Parco said. “It was hard to get a pinpoint on the greens and hard to get a read on them.”

Regardless of her putting woes, Broncos coach Eric Swanson was impressed with his young golfer’s performance.

“I am really proud of Veronica and how she performed at state,” Swanson said. “She was poised and didn’t show any nerves the entire time and didn’t let any bad shots get to her.”

Parco battled a bottleneck on the back nine to finish her first round in six hours with an 87. Parco finished one stroke off her first round pace with an 88 on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s ever taken me six hours to finish a round of 18, but there was quite the bottleneck with a par-5 followed by a par 3 on the back nine,” Parco said. “Lots of golfers were waiting too, but I just tried to think about my hitting during all the down time that I had.”

Parco is going to make the most of her down time this winter to work on her putting.

“Putting has been an issue for me all year,” Parco said. Since putting is a small thing, I can work on it indoors this winter and the work on hitting and putting in the spring.”

“I’ve been playing golf for a one and a half years, but I wish I had worked harder on putting in that time.”

If Parco can improve her putting, she will be a contender to return to state the next two years.

“She had probably 12 or 13 3-putts, which is just too many,” Swanson said. “She knows she needs to work on this part of her game, so I expect that it will be dramatically improved next year.”

Parco added: “I really want to go back up here next year and get my putting down and get my score down. I’m looking forward to that.”

So are Swanson and the rest of the Bronco golfers.

 

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