Wed, Jan. 22

Mingus Union girls golf off to strong start

Mingus ladies golfers practice at Oakcreek Country Club on Tuesday. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus ladies golfers practice at Oakcreek Country Club on Tuesday. VVN/James Kelley

Although they’re debutants at the varsity level, Mingus Union ladies golf is off to a strong start.

Although the program is in its first season competing at the varsity level and second overall, the Marauders won their first five matches, against the likes of Glendale Raymond S. Kellis, Prescott and Glendale Ironwood.

Then last week the Marauders finished eighth at the prestigious Aguila Open in Laveen Village.

Although the Marauders had a lot of success last year in the developmental ranks, head coach Dennis Kitchen does admit the 2018 success is a surprise.

“I was worried maybe going varsity level, instead of the developmental league, that they might not have enough confidence or we might be overwhelmed by it, but man, they’ve just taken it right in stride, stepped it up and they’re just competing right alongside everyone else,” Kitchen said. “Prescott has a tough team and both times we’ve met Prescott we beat them by three to five strokes and that was good for these girls to see that they can play right with them.”

This year’s team is again dominated by the class of 2021, but last year’s freshmen have shined at the varsity level. This season they have one freshman, who is new to golf, after having an all rookie team last year.

“That’s pretty much the team, the same girls that we had as freshmen, they’re the girls this year as sophomores and the exciting thing is that in the next two years they should be right in the mix,” Kitchen said. “They’re improving as we go along the year and they got a lot of time to keep growing and maturing and improving.”

Some big upcoming matches for the Marauders are their trip to Lee Williams and when they host the John Uidenich Memorial Invitational on Oct. 13.

“We’re going to have the girls participate in the Johnny Uidenich Memorial, that’ll be our last tournament of the year, 18-hole tournament, so that will be nice for them like the Aguila,” Kitchen said. “We went down to the Aguila open tournament, which was I believe the first year for girls this year and we did really well with that, that was the first time they’ve played 18. We’re going to play a tough team in Lee Williams in two weeks.”

With their normal home course Agave Highlands closed for much of the month September as the new owners make various improvements, the Marauders have been a bit limited. The Cornville course that was previously named Verde Santa Fe is scheduled to reopen Sept. 21, with the first high school match being the ladies on Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. with Bradshaw Mountain, Ironwood and Peoria Sunrise Mountain.

“It’s been tough because we haven’t had as many days for practice,” Kitchen said.

On the plus side, the Marauders have played at other courses, like Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona.

“It’s always nice to play the different places, like here (Tuesday) we’re Oakcreek, which is great, to see some sand, the Agave Highlands doesn’t have sand,” Kitchen said. “We’ve played some courses in Phoenix which have been great because they had the opportunities with sand, different types of greens, with a lot harder slope to them than what we are used to.”

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