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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Prairie View freshman golfer heads to state tournament

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Haley Wade shows her runner-up medal earned at the regional girls golf tournament in Ozawakie, Kan., on Monday. The Prairie View freshman shot a perfect par score on the back nine holes of the course. (Photos by Mark Hough)

Prairie View’s Haley Wade will be traveling to Hesston next week to compete in the Class 3-1A Kansas State Girls Golf tournament after shooting a 7-over-par 78 at the regional tournament at the Village Greens course in Ozawkie on Monday, Oct. 9.

Wade, who was runner-up in the regional tournament, was only three strokes behind the leader, Klara Kleinig of Silver Lake, who shot a 4 over par to win.

The Prairie View golfer, who is the Pioneer League girls champion, will be competing in the two-day state tournament that begins on Monday, Oct. 16, at 9 a.m. She goes into the tournament being the 15th top scorer in the state from all Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) classes over the past seven days.

Wade started the season strong, tying for first place at the Chanute Invitational by shooting a 92 on a 71-par course. She placed fifth by shooting an 86 on a 70-par course at Tonganoxie, and placed second on the 71-par course at Anderson County by shooting an 82.

Wade’s season this year has been one that is remarkable but not surprising. The Prairie View freshman who is 15, first picked up a golf club to play when she was 5.

Under the coaching of her father, Roger Wade, the youngster not only learned the game but worked to perfect it. Wade said that seven years ago, she began competing in Drive, Chip & Putt (DC&P) competitions, where she learned to compete under pressure.

She has also competed in tournaments hosted by U.S. Kids Golf and played in a Kansas City league during the summer.

The DC&P divisions include four age groups for girls beginning with a group for ages 7-9 and ending with a group for ages 14-15. The same age groups are used in the boys division as well.

On Sept. 28, she traveled with her family to Castle Rock, Colo., to compete at the regional DC&P competition. Wade took second place in the competition, scoring 110 points, 8 points behind the winner who went on to the national tournament.

Wade struggled with her driving in that competition, but scored the best on chipping (including two strokes that put her ball within 1 foot of the cup), and very good on putting (including a hole in one).

But Hough said she has enough power to get the distance on drives, and has a great short game.

“She really has the whole package,” he said.

“She’s a smart kid and a super competitor,” Hough said, adding that she can have a hole that doesn’t go well for her and still be able to shake it off and get back on her game.

“She’s consistent and put together 18 holes, and that’s hard to do,” he said. “Only a few times has she had to take a penalty stroke.

Haley Wade putts at Class 3-1A regional golf tournament on Monday.

This week at Ozawkie, the freshman struggled a little in the front nine holes, scoring four shots over par. But on the back nine, she shot a perfect even par, according to her coach Mark Hough, who is also Prairie View’s activities director.

Hough said the “phenom” would be an accurate description of Wade’s talent on the links.

But Wade’s mother, Jodi Wade, who is the La Cygne city clerk, said that her daughter puts in plenty of hours of practice, even sometimes when she doesn’t really feel like practicing.

Unlike her dual-sport role on the Lady Buffalos’ volleyball team this fall, her golf game, both at practice and at tournaments, has often been a lonely one. She is the sole member of the team.

Wade’s mother expressed concern late in the summer whether her daughter would be able to play golf for Prairie View. She said that playing with the two girls on the Jayhawk-Linn High School team was a possibility if the Prairie View district didn’t hire a coach.

But Hough stepped in to fill the need, and Wade has played in several matches this year, walking away with first- and second-place medals consistently.

He said while she felt lonely in competitions at first, she quickly made friends with JLHS golfers Celeste Schneider and Camryn Thomas, both of whom also qualified at the Ozawkie regional for the state meet. Wade also became friends with a golfer from Baldwin.

Because there are fewer girls playing golf than boys, schools will often put girls in with the boys during the spring season and forego the fall season for female athletes. That can be intimidating to girl golfers who compete against the boys.

Hough said that there are only two schools in the Pioneer League that don’t have girls golf in the fall – Anderson County and Santa Fe Trail. He said there is an additional advantage to girls golf in the fall: Those who play have been playing all summer and are at their peek at the end of the season.

He said that lack of practice during the winter going into the spring season means more strokes on scorecards.

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