O’Fallon Township High School junior Emily Marrs became a better golfer in the past year.
With her passion for the sport and dream of playing NCAA Division I golf in the future serving as motivation, Marrs spent the past summer playing a demanding schedule of events on some of the toughest courses in the Midwest.
Improvement, which often times came in tournaments where she was competing against the best junior players in the nation, didn’t result in any wins. But the competition narrowed her focus and sharpened her game.
It also helped her earn Belleville News-Democrat Class 2A Player of the year for the second year in a row.
“Playing on great golf courses against some of the best players in the nation and sometimes the world, it helped make me a better player,” Marrs said recently. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but I learned a lot about myself and my game.”
“Now I want to take what I learned from last summer and this past high school season and build on it heading into the spring and summer tournament season and get ready for my senior year and then college golf.”
During an early October weekend at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur, both Marrs and the Panthers showed how much they have improved in the past year.
Winner of 11 tournament titles during the 2016 season including the Southwestern Conference and the Class AA Edwardsville Regional, O’Fallon jumped two spots from their 12th place finish a year ago. The Panthers total of 652 was 90 shots better then the 740 they shot in the 2015 finals.
Marrs was a big reason for the lower score. The soft-spoken Panthers standout followed her opening round of 76 with an 82 to finish with a 36-hole score of 158 and a tie for 39th place. Marrs had a two-round total of 168 a year ago.
Veteran coach Chris Eddy increased the Panthers tournament schedule to where O’Fallon played in just seven dual matches compared to 13 tournaments. Marrs’ scoring dropped to 79.6 in tournaments while increasing a bit to just over 40 in nine-hole matches.
A former college player at Illinois State University, Eddy helped Marrs become a better player both mentally and physically with her golf swing.
“He (Eddy) is really a great coach and has gotten me to smile a little bit more on the golf course,” Marrs said. “Mechanically we’ve made some changes with my golf swing, but the big improvement I feel was in my course management this year. I’m making better decisions on the golf course.”
Eddy said the fact that Marrs’ tournament average continues to drop is a positive sign.
“I think — and most of the girls will agree with me —that playing 18-hole tournaments is easier than nine-hole matches,” Eddy said. “When you play in nine-hole matches, if you have a bad hole or two, it’s tough to come back from that sometimes. Whereas in 18-hole tournaments, you are there all day, you have more time to prepare and you don’t have many of the outside distractions you have when you are coming out of school and playing nine-hole events.
“A lot of our girls play 18-hole events in the spring and summer. They are more comfortable doing that.”
And it showed.
O’Fallon, led by Marrs, one of four outstanding juniors, played in 11 tournaments during the season. Eleven times, the Panthers came away with the win. Marrs said the competition within the team made each of O’Fallon’s top six players better.
“We all got a long pretty well. It was a great year and we’re looking forward to next year. We have everybody back,” Marrs said. “I think anytime you have the players we do and you’re playing every day. competing with each other, it has to make you better. It did for us.”
Marrs hopes to play NCAA Division I golf after graduating in 2018, but is unsure of what school she will attend.
2016 All-Area Girls Golf Team
Class AA Player of the Year
Emily Marrs, O’Fallon, jr.
Class A Players of the Year
Hope Rueter, Nashville, jr.; Rachael Kell, Nashville, jr
Class AA Coach
Chris Eddy, O’Fallon
Class A Coach
Doug Kell, Nashville
Class AA First Team
Morgan Bemis, Alton, jr.
Brianna Benardin, Triad, sr.
Brooke Boatman, O’Fallon, jr.
Abbey Burns, Collinsville, sr.
Alyssa McMinn, O’Fallon, jr.
Natalie Meinkoth, O’Fallon, jr.
Kayla Weinacht, Edwardsville, sr.
Addasyn Zeller, Edwardsville, jr.
Class A First Team
Bailey Sharmack, Roxana, jr.
Ellie Kane, Marquette, jr.
Tia Kimbrough, Althoff, jr.
Megan Lewis, Althoff, jr.
Rece Portell, Highland, jr.
Destiny Restoff, Waterloo, sr.
Isabella Roberts, Civic Memorial, jr.
Makensy Umscheid, Waterloo, jr.
Lauren Walsh, Marquette, jr.
Jill Guetersloh, Nashville, sr.
Brooke Bartling, Nashville; Jessica Benson, Edwardsville; Gabi Berolotti, Highland; Liz Boehning, O’Fallon; Madi Connors, Marquette; Sara Guetersloh, Nashville; Bre Haas, Belleville East; Paige Hamel, Edwardsville; Remy Heinen, Waterloo; Katelyn Jonak, Columbia; Annie Kane, Marquette; Daphne Lane, Belleville East; Mikaleen Lawrence, Mater Dei; Annie Maynard, Alton; Briana McMinn, O’Fallon; Alynnah O’Leary, Collinsville; Carmen Phillips, Civic Memorial; Claire Rendleman, Collinsville; Sydney Sahuri, Edwardsville; Meg Schnoeker, Okawville; Jordan Stiegman, Nashville; Clara Taake, Columbia; Maggie Tiernan, Althoff; Shelbi Westmoreland, Waterloo; Audrey Wilke, Highland.