Freeport freshman golfer one of the guys
By Bill Beckner Jr.
Published: Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, 12:35 a.m.
Asked if she likes to hit a draw or fade, Freeport's Audrey Clawson teed it up.
“Well, my ball generally goes straight,” she said.
Pure honesty from a humble freshman who only took up golf two years ago.
Clawson talks like a seasoned player and rightly so. She has game — plenty of it.
Just ask her teammates on the Freeport boys team.
“I can do a draw when I want, but some courses are narrow, so you have to hit a fade, too,” said Clawson, who has played her way into the Yellowjackets' No. 2 spot and has either been medalist or runner-up in every match so far for the Yellowjackets (4-1).
“She plays very smart golf and never gets in trouble,” No. 1 player Robbie Miller said. “I love having her on the team because she always seems to come in with sub-40 scores. You can tell that she's no stranger to competitive golf, and I give her credit for stepping in and playing right away.”
The fairway-finding 14-year-old has shot 40 or better in every match. Her season average is 37.8 through five matches, with her low nine-hole round a 1-under-par 34 at gentle Serene Valley.
That round included two eagles — on the 350-yard par-5 10th and the 250-yard, par-4 15th. She had a 60-yard second shot into No. 10 and drove No. 15 with a hybrid.
“Her play speaks for itself,” Yellowjackets coach Joe Sprumont said. “Boys on the team see that and respect it. They've had two good years together but haven't made the playoffs yet. They look at (Clawson) as someone who can help them make it.”
Clawson is the only girl on a senior-heavy team that includes senior captains Miller, Richard VanDruff and Luke Mariotti.
Other team members include seniors Ryley Cowan, Steven Vento, Greg Newman and junior Cole Hepler.
“It can be very intimidating; boys can really drive it far,” Clawson said. “You have to be more focused on your game than theirs. The more you focus on their game, the worse you do. It's been a little awkward, but the team has accepted me.”
A women's clinic at Kittanning Country Club sparked Clawson's interest in golf.
Clawson's uncle, Roy Dougherty, a 1-handicap, helped teach her the game, while longtime Kittanning Country Club pro Chuck Alex helped hone her skills year-round.
Clawson used to play basketball, soccer and volleyball but has decided to focus on golf.
Her mother, Sally Dougherty, has been impressed with the fast progress.
“Actually, golf's one of the sports I cared least for,” Dougherty said with a laugh. “But Audrey has really worked at it. She really puts a lot of time in.”
Sprumont points out that Freeport's team is co-ed, so having a girl is nothing new.
Clawson is the second girl he has coached in his three seasons. Senior Katelyn Minyon was a member of the team last season.
Past girls players such as Kelsey Harned and Kristen Huth also have handled being in the minority well. However, none has been so impactful so early as Clawson.
Sprumont said four other girls tried out for the team this season but did not qualify during tryouts. Clawson, meantime, tied for low score.
Clawson hopes to follow in the footsteps of recent Highlands grad Courtney Kordes, who played on the boys team in high school — at No. 1 — and earned a scholarship to Penn State.
Like Kordes, Clawson will play in the WPIAL girls' individual postseason.
Clawson is a member at Kittanning Country Club, where she was runner-up in this year's club championship. She also plays out of Buffalo Golf Course and caddies at Oakmont Country Club.
The WPIAL allows girls to play from the front tees in boys' matches, and Clawson does. “She hits the ball long; she can play,” Knoch coach Rob Voltz said. “She is very impressive.”
Knoch beat Freeport by a stroke in nonsection play, but Voltz said he had no issues with Clawson playing from the reds.
“She's not breaking any rules,” Voltz said. “She should take advantage of what the WPIAL gives her.”
WPIAL rules say girls playing on boys teams can play from the red tees but must be “approximately 85 percent of the total distance from the white tees.”
The WPIAL individual postseason intrigues Clawson. The Division II (Class AA) finals last year had only 17 players. Some of the top players moved up to Class AAA, so there may be an opening for her to succeed.
“My goal is to make states and maybe get into the top 10,” Clawson said. “Next year maybe I can go the full way. I want to get my scores down to the low 70s.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Boxer ‘Hurricane’ Carter, famously wrongly convicted, dies at 76
- Miss America asks York school to rethink prom question suspension
- Biertempfel: Kendall’s book offers inside look at life in majors
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- More women seize opportunities to start businesses
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man
- NFL notebook: Pryor will be cut if he’s not traded