By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Coming from Frink-Chambers Elementary School, McAlester senior Madison Young said she didn’t know many people when she transferred to McAlester High School before her freshman year.
But Young had grown up golfing with her grandfather Sid at the McAlester Country Club, and playing golf for the Lady Buffaloes quickly provided her with a new community.
“The first time I ever really played golf, I remember my grandpa ... he gave me one club, and I just played the whole course with that,” Young said Friday. “It took me forever, but I did it.
“I’d kinda told myself, ‘I want to play golf.’ And when I set my mind to something, there’s no changing it.”
Young’s been a four-year varsity golfer for the Lady Buffs. She said tournaments during her freshman season could be scary, but she eventually got over the nervousness, learning a life lesson in the process.
“Going to tournaments and having to play with girls you’ve never met before, you learn to just kinda not be shy,” Young said.
“It kinda helps you out with dealing with doing stuff in front of large crowds. It’s more of an individual sport. You can go play a basketball game, but it’s your whole team. In golf, it’s you. Nobody else on your team is helping you. Like now, I can go to a tournament, and everybody at that tournament could watch me and it wouldn’t affect me.”
McAlester girls’ golf coach Aron Holt couldn’t join his team until the season had already started. An assistant girls’ basketball coach, Holt had to stay with that team, which reached the second week of the postseason.
As the most experienced golfer on the team, Young said she had to step up in Holt’s absence.
“I needed to step up and be like, ‘Let’s practice’ and ‘Let’s do this,’” Young said. “I enjoyed it, but it was stressful.”
Young said driving has always been her favorite part of golfing.
“I can get it far enough to where I don’t have to use a wood (club), because I’m not very well using the fairway,” Young said.
As a goal this season, Young said she wants to break 100 at a tournament. She shot a 101 at Ardmore on Wednesday, and she said she’s broken 100 several times when golfing for fun.
Young said breaking 100 in a tournament will come down to “not counting my score before I get done playing and not over-thinking.”
Whether Young achieves that goal or not, this will be her last season as a competitive golfer. The Lady Buffs didn’t for their state tournament during Young’s first three seasons, and she said this year’s team is focused on improving its own performance and not worrying about placing or other teams.
However, Madalyn Nix leads a strong corps of Lady Buffs freshman golfers this season. Young said she thinks the team will perform better and better as the younger Lady Buffs gain more experience.
“I like her,” Young said of Nix. “When you’re that person, a lot of people look up to you, and she’s a good person to look up to. ... She will be the player that makes the team go far, and I’ve been that every year.”
Once she graduates, Young said she’ll miss “being part of something and having a team.” She plans to move to Oklahoma City, where her father lives, and attend either Oklahoma City Community College or Rose State College in Midwest City.
Young said she plans study criminology, then hopefully become a parole officer.
“My grandpa used to work at Jackie Brannon (Correction Center in McAlester),” Young said.
“I’ve just always had more of an interest in law and prisons and stuff. I want to be able to work with inmates and help them out, help them get their lives back on track.”
When she’s not golfing, Young said she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and going to Life Church. She also watches professional golf on television, her favorite golfer being 25-year old Rickie Fowler.
“I started getting interested him because he played at OSU,” Young said of Fowler. Fowler played for Oklahoma State University for two seasons and still sometimes wears orange at tournaments to honor his former team.
Young said she lives with her grandparents in McAlester, and her grandfather has been a big influence on her life.
From her grandfather, Young picked up the game of golf. And from golf, she’s learned lessons that will apply throughout her life.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.