Moorestown girls’ golf aiming for another trip to Tournament of Champions

golf

There aren’t too many teams like the Moorestown High School girls’ golf team.

Granted, there aren’t too many girls’ golf teams in South Jersey to begin with.

The Quakers, along with Cumberland Regional High School, are one of just two girls’ golf teams in South Jersey. However, the lack of local competition hasn’t stopped the team from having success.

Moorestown is coming off an outstanding 2015 where the team snagged third place at South Jersey sectionals and advanced to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, where the team finished as the seventh-best team in the state. It was the Quakers’ first trip to the Tournament of Champions since 2010.

Charlotte Heenan has been the head coach of the girls’ golf team since 2007 and said the program has grown since she first took the helm.

“Up until 2007, you had one or two serious golfers, but most of the girls were coming out so they could put something on their college resume,” Heenan said. “I was scrounging clubs and doing a lot of from-the-ground-up teaching.”

“As the team gained more popularity, word got around a little bit,” she added.

The Quakers have a deep roster now, with many members playing golf outside of the high school season. This includes playing on the South Jersey Junior Tour in the summer and training at indoor facilities during the winter.

“We’re in a position where all of the kids are competing over the summer with the South Jersey Junior Tour,” Heenan said. “That was a huge hurdle for us to overcome.”

Moorestown faces a number of in-season hurdles each year. With a lack of girls’ program in South Jersey, Moorestown’s regular season schedule is loaded with Central and North Jersey teams, meaning the team is forced to endure long road trips to away matches.

“We spend a lot of time on the bus,” Heenan said. “Our closest competitor is 35 minutes away. After the first few years, I got my bus license and I started driving the bus.”

“It shows their dedication,” Heenan added. “Sometimes we drive an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and 20 minutes to a match, and they’re not going home until 8 p.m. that night.”

Moorestown also plays schools with longer, more established golf programs, giving the Quakers a challenge every time they take the course.

“The North Jersey teams have such a competitive advantage over us,” Heenan said. “They have leagues and they tend to get more athletes on the team.”

Despite the challenge, the Quakers have been up to the task since 2010. The team has had six straight winning seasons and has not lost more than four matches in a single year in that span.

The Quakers have also competed against the boys the last three years at the Carl Arena Tournament, which pits nearly all of the golf teams in South Jersey against each other in May. In 2015, Moorestown finished 43rd overall, besting a number of boys’ teams.

“When they go there and they compete with the boys, they realize I can compete with these guys,” Heenan said.

This year, the Quakers will have to overcome the loss two of their top golfers from 2015, Aine Filler and Gillian Marini. Heenan is looking for a number of upperclassmen to step up and fill their roles this year.

Junior Megan Duman is one golfer to watch. She competed throughout the summer on the South Jersey Junior Tour and trained throughout the winter to fine tune her game.

“She saw (last year’s seniors) put all of the work they put in their game and saw how much they improved,” Heenan said.

Senior Bela Delvadia and junior Katelyn Bigley are also expected to lead Moorestown this season. Delvadia sunk the clutch putt to send Moorestown to the Tournament of Champions last year, while Bigley was the Quakers’ highest scoring golfer at last year’s Carl Arena Tournament out of the team’s returning players.

The Quakers also have a strong stable of freshmen joining the team this year.

“I have five freshmen this year and all of them have golf experience,” Heenan said. “That’s never happened before.”

Despite last year’s Tournament of Champions trip, expectations aren’t set too high for the Quakers. Heenan said the team’s goals will remain the same as previous years’, qualifying for sectionals and scoring as high as possible in that tournament.

Heenan believes the team has the talent for another winning season. She plans to emphasize a team-first atmosphere on the course, something she said has worked in the past.

“They are really a great group of girls. They’re supportive of each other in a sport where you can be your own worst enemy,” Heenan said. “That’s what we strive for here is to make it fun and make it a team game for them.”