New Mexico golf team journeyed Hawaii for Junior America’s Cup

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The 2012 Girls Junior America’s Cup golf tournament was held in Hawaii last week, and there were some names on the New Mexico roster that Socorro sports fans should be pretty familiar with.

Submitted photo: New Mexico competed in the Girls Junior America’s Cup in Maui last week. Pictured from left are team captain and Socorro head girls golf coach Margaret Stanley, Dominique Galloway of Albuquerque, Darian Zachek from Deming, and Kristen Cline and Shania Berger from Socorro.

Lady Warriors head coach Margaret Stanley was captain of the team that traveled to Maui to compete against 17 other teams from around the western United States, Mexico and Canada. She took with her Socorro High School teammates Shania Berger and Kristen Cline, who have collectively won the Class A-AAA individual state championship for the past three years.

Cline won in 2010 and 2012, Berger in 2011.

Also on the roster were Dominique Galloway from Cleveland High School in Albuquerque and Darian Zachek of Deming High School.

Galloway placed second in this year’s 5A state championship and Zachek took second in the Class 4A version.

“It’s great having the variety,” Stanley said of taking players from different squads.

She choose Galloway and Zachek, as well as her own two girls, based on their high school average, their Rocky Mountain Junior Golf Association averages and the number of Sun Country PGA events they participated in.

“I think I chose correctly,” Stanley said.

The event was held at Wailea Golf Club, located in Wailea-Makena on the southwestern edge of Maui. The Emerald Course at Wailea has been named Golf for Women Magazine’s most women-friendly golf course seven times. But the girls weren’t playing on the Emerald Course. They were playing on the Gold Course.

The club’s Website contests that the Gold Course is a “thinking player’s course” and that the most difficult hazards on it are the “distracting island views.” It also says that it is a true test of one’s golf skills, which might far more accurately describe it’s true nature.

“You can’t hit it out of the fairways. There’s lava (rock), thick trees,” Stanley said.

Simply put, it’s a difficult course that would probably chew up and spit out the average golfer.

While no one playing in the 2012 GJAC would likely be coined an “average” golfer, the fickle nature of the game was apparent last week, at least for squads not so familiar with the particulars of the course. That included the team from New Mexico.

Stanley’s team placed 15th out of the 18 teams that competed, finishing 68 strokes behind the tournament winner Hawaii, which came in even for the week. Southern California finished just one stroke back of them at 1-over-par and Mexico was third, at 10-over-par.

Individually, Berger posted the lowest score for New Mexico as she compiled a three-round total of 238 and tied for 41st. Galloway finished alone in 44th place with an overall 240, Cline tied for 45th with a score of 242 and Zachek finished tied for 52nd with an overall 245. While the team may have been disappointed with their showing, the final scores weren’t the only aspect of the GJAC that were important.

“This is a great place to showcase the talent of New Mexico, especially girls golf because there are so many collegiate coaches that go,” Stanley said.

She met four or five coaches that were interested in her girls.

“That’s kind of neat to have,” she said.

And of course there was the added experience, something that always comes in handy, but perhaps even more so given the scheduled location of next year’s tournament: Isleta Golf Course, located just south of Albuquerque.

“Once you put those tee boxes back, it will be a good challenge,” Stanley said.

While next year’s team won’t have to travel quite so far to compete in the GJAC, the backing from the community will undoubtedly hold steady. It’s not cheap to fly five people from New Mexico to Maui, but New Mexico Tech, First State Bank, the Socorro Chamber of Commerce and the Socorro Men’s Golf Association, among others, helped make sure that wasn’t an issue.

“Personally, I’d like to thank the people who helped us get there,” Stanley said.

At least next year, the team can probably just take a van.