Hitting the links early, a trio of area golfers is getting ready for topnotch competition.
Ten-year-old Shealyn Hanrahan of Oakdale stretches an iron behind her small frame and releases an explosive swing that glides through the fairway like a lawnmower. The golf ball lofts into the air, crashes onto the green, spins backwards and settles just shy of the cup during a recent Wednesday practice.
She turns to catch an approving nod from perhaps the most celebrated female golfer in Riverbank history, RHS graduate Courtney Floyd.
Floyd praised the shot aloud but her nod spoke even stronger — a sort of telepathic “that’s how it’s done.”
Courtney is the third member of a family coaching trio that mentors some of the area’s aspiring young talent during First Tee practice sessions at the Escalon Golf Course. She is joined by her younger brother and standout Bruin golfer, Casey Floyd, and father/RHS golf coach, Charlie Floyd. Also on hand to coach and support the girls is First Tee volunteer Virginia Whitworth.
Together, and alongside other volunteers from the surrounding area, the three Riverbank residents and Whitworth promote golf for local youth with training for two age divisions. Younger players meet at the Escalon location first, followed by the older group.
That older division features Hanrahan, Modesto’s Sami Fraze and Manteca’s Charliez La Rue. Thanks to a sponsorship from the Oakdale Women’s Nine Hole Golf Association 49ers group, all three of these First Tee players will participate in the annual Women’s Nine Hole Golf Association Corena Green Classic For Junior Girls on Tuesday, July 23 at the North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks.
The tournament features some of the top youth players in California and will award trophies and prizes to each flight. The contest is available to any junior girls sponsored by a member of any WNHGA club, ages 8 to 17. All girls will play nine holes. They have had the opportunity to hone their skills at the Escalon course, meeting for practices and instruction on a regular basis.
Hanrahan and La Rue will compete in the 8-10 age division on the back nine, offering tee-shots from 150 yards and regular action on par-three holes. Fraze is set to compete in the 11- to 13 group while girls featured in the 14-17 age division will vie for a bounty of scholarship money, with $5200 in college gift certificates up for grabs. More than 100 golfers are expected to participate.
“They had to work really hard to get to this point,” Shealyn’s mother, Lori Hanrahan, said. “I know Shealyn has been golfing diligently since she was about five years old.”
This year marks the 23rd annual staging of the Corena Green Classic event and the local contingent has prepared well, looking to put in a solid effort on the links.