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GIRLS' PREP GOLF OPINION: Finishes at State show golf can be a fickle game (10/04)

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By Chuck Jones

BOWLING GREEN — Lydia Gumm’s golfing heroics won’t soon be forgotten, even though this season ended without a state championship. A state title that eluded and dodged her for 10 years.

Gumm couldn’t hide her disappointment when her high school career came to an end Wednesday in the Leachman Buick-GMC-Cadillac/KHSAA Girls’ State Golf Championship at Bowling Green Country Club. Tears flowed as she received countless hugs from family, fellow competitors and fans.

This championship meant everything to Gumm, who became the first player in state tournament history to make 10 consecutive trips. This was the only trophy missing from her impressive collection.

“This is the one I really wanted,” Gumm said with her voice cracking and choking back tears.

Golf is a fickle game. It can bring so much joy and so much heartache, sometimes within the same round or even the same hole. The feeling can change from one shot to the next.

Gumm knows that all too well. She has had memorable moments at the state tournament, but she has experienced heartbreaking loss more times than not.

Wednesday’s round was a microcosm of her state appearances. She started the day four shots behind Calloway County sophomore Anna Hack. Gumm had three birdies and three bogeys on the front nine. It was one step forward and two steps back all day long.

On the back nine, Gumm knew she had to start making up ground. That wasn’t easy to do when she wasn’t hitting fairways or making putts. She started pressing to try to work her way back into contention. It never happened.

“It can get in your head,” Gumm said. “I had birdie opportunities, but I guess I was thinking about it too much. I just wanted it so bad.”

Elizabethtown coach Kim Hartlage said this one tournament doesn’t define Gumm’s career. She said Gumm, who is headed to Florida State next season, has a bright future. Gumm’s best days are ahead of her.

“When you’re talented and something you want so badly keeps slipping through your fingers, that makes it harder to win it,” Hartlage said. “It starts playing tricks with your mind. Emotions are like the 15th club in your bag.”

Emotions can play a big role in a round of golf. It can lift players to a round they’ll never forget or one they never want to remember.

Case in point, seventh-grader Sarah Hinton had the round of her young career. She had an 89, including three pars on her final nine holes, nearly matching the number she had the first 27.

On the flipside, Elizabethtown senior Ashley Hartlage had her worst round of the season, carding a 97. Kim Hartlage said her eldest daughter “played more emotional golf” on this day. That one round doesn’t diminish what Ashley has accomplished this year and in her career.

Just as Gumm should not be defined by never winning a state championship. She has meant so much to the game and to area golf.

The state championship trophy will sit somewhere else once again, but Gumm can take solace in knowing that she had one of the most brilliant careers in the history of high school golf.

Gumm, though, was able to walk off the 18th green knowing that, even without a state title, her career was still a major success. More than a decade filled with trophies, a half dozen 3rd Region titles and what will be five Miss Golfs. Those accomplishments are second to none.

“It has been a really good one,” Gumm said of her career. “At the same time, this is the one I wanted. But I’m proud of myself.”

Gumm should be. She has plenty to proud of.

A state championship wouldn’t change that.

Chuck Jonesis The News-Enterprise sports editor. He can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com.