Big Red golfer signs with CentralDec 3, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
When Shelby Watson first swung a golf club during her freshman year for the Lady Wolverines of Riverton, playing at the college level was certainly the furthest thing from her mind.
"Back then, I never thought I'd play college golf," said Watson. "But, from my freshman to senior year, my game has grown by leaps and bounds."
So much so, there she was seated at a table inside Wolverine Gym on Friday afternoon, penning her name to a national letter of intent to continue her career on the fairways for Central Wyoming College.
Watson will join a talented squad which already includes Samalie Prom, who won five of six tournaments during this year's fall season and fellow recruit and Fremont County swinger Macy Jacobson of Lander, who has already committed to Central head coach Russ Holgate's team for next season.
According to Holgate, securing the services of a talented golfer is one thing, it's another altogether if that player is from the neighborhood.
"It's always great to have a local kid," said Holgate. "Hopefully, what that creates is more support from the community."
Consider that box checked, as now the Orange-and-Black can lay claim to having the No. 1-ranked women's golfer in Region IX and a pair of the best high-school players in the entire state of Wyoming.
However, now Watson and Jacobson will be battling for the same cause as teammates, which wasn't the case at this season's Class 3-A West regional championships in Cody.
In fact, the duo went to a sudden-death playoff when they were even after 36 holes, only for the Lady Tiger to prevail.
Now, Watson will have her friendly rival pushing her to be a better player, she said.
"Macy's a great player and a wonderful person," said Watson. "I'm really excited -- it's going to be great to show up every week with a chance to win as a team."
Riverton head golf coach Lars Flanagan was proud, as well as pleased, at how far Watson has come over the course of her four-year high-school career, he said.
"I never thought Shelby was interested in playing college golf," said Flanagan. "But, if you look at her build, she's a strong, athletic girl, and mentally, she's really found herself and the ability to play against better golfers."
Lady Wolverines girls golf coach Cierra Lee agreed.
"One of the best things about Shelby is as she continued to drop her scores, she became a role model for the other girls on the team," said Lee. "Now, she was expected to shoot low every week, which gave her more focus and really pulled ahead her senior year, which also caused her confidence and leadership to grow."
All about team
Holgate said Watson simply adds more ingredients to the recipe he's cooking up for his program.
"Shelby's already there as far as what we're developing," he said. "She's going to fit in absolutely great, with her work ethic."
College golf presents a team concept made up of individual performances, with nobody bigger than the team itself, said Holgate.
"First and foremost, we're a team," he said. "We all want to make each other perform better and hold everyone accountable."
Home sweet home
For Watson, beginning her college career playing and practicing on the same course she graced as a Lady Wolverine was an offer she couldn't refuse, she said.
"I wanted to stay close rather than going someplace farther away," said Watson. "Also, Coach Holgate has an excellent program. It's awesome to be able to go to college at home."