by Aaron Garcia
On the surface, Marvin Ridge High’s Rachel Walker seems like an ordinary 11th-grader. By all accounts, she’s a friendly, well-mannered teenager who, not unlike countless others, juggles school work and extracurricular activities. In her case, basketball and golf.
But Marvin Ridge girls golf coach Aaron Hammers noted that Walker has a trait that sets her apart from many high school kids, and it’s the same attribute that helped her earn Union County Weekly’s 2010 Girls Golfer of the Year award.
“She’s a very fierce competitor, and people miss that about her because she is so nice when you talk to her one-on-one,” said Hammers. “But when you get on the golf course, she’s pretty fiery. She gets after it and she cares about what she does and every little thing matters. She knows when to have fun and when to work hard, too, which is good.”
Those traits were on display this past fall, when Walker often stood out on the links. She finished sixth at the Class 1A/2A/3A Central Regional with an 18-hole round of 84, the best finish among Union County competitors. During the regular season, she shot a career-best 37 to sink Charlotte’s Class 4A powerhouses Myers Park and Providence high schools. For the season Walker averaged 42.5 strokes per nine holes
Walker, who started playing golf eight years ago with her dad, Brian, said that her round of 37 this season was one of the most important milestones she’s hit on the golf course, which helped her once the postseason rolled around.
“That was a big steppingstone for me, to know that I can break 40 by that much and almost shoot par,” said Walker, who missed a 4-foot put to finish one stroke away from an even-par 36.
“I’ll have a chance to move forward from that,” she continued. “I need to cut out some of the blowup holes. That was my major setback this year.”
For Hammers, regardless of that final missed putt, Walker offered a glimpse of what she’s capable of.
“On that day, you saw what she can really do. When you’re playing against the 4A schools – and those were quality schools – we go out there and we beat them and it’s because of what Rachel shot that day, that was the competitive nature in her game,” Hammers said of Walker, who teamed with Amanda Hampton in guiding the Mavericks to an 11th-place finish at the Class 1A/2A/3A state meet.
“She said, ‘I really want to show well,’ and she did that day,” recalled Hammers. “Throughout that day, when I watched her play, she was just focused.”