The problem was, the school didn’t have a girls team. No matter, Rhiannon simply joined the boys team and competed against other boys in the area.
Now the Mount Airy senior is taking her golf skills to Surry Community College as she signed her letter of intent on Thursday.
The three-time all-conference player should also be great for team morale as she is the Bears’ head cheerleader as well.
It was while performing with her cheer squad that Rhiannon sprained her wrist back in the fall. That meant she couldn’t lead the golf team when the season started.
She had to play her way back into form, said Coach Tommye Phillips. After that, she was instrumental in the Bears earning two team wins in five conference events.
For high school competition, the top three scores from each school count toward the total team score. She and teammates Summer Hamilton and Kaity Lewis formed a strong threesome at the top of the Bears’ scorecard.
“Watching her practice and watching her play, she will be an asset to our team,” said SCC Coach Tom Pendergraft.
He said he could see Rhiannon competing in the junior college nationals in Florida next year if she applies herself.
The coach said he has seen a change in attitude toward golf of women in high school and college. More and more females are playing the sport.
“What a wonderful example she sets for younger girls who are interested in golf,” said Phillips. She believes that Mount Airy has built a great program to help young women build on that interest.
“It’s a tough ride here,” Rhiannon said of the competition in the Northwest Conference. “You play against the best of the best.”
After years of competing just with South Stokes, Mount Airy got some local competition the past two seasons as North Surry, Surry Central and East Surry started teams for women.
For the past three years she has qualified for the regional playoffs, which means she has averaged a 50 or less for the season for a nine-hole round. Her personal best is 42 at Silo Run in Boonville.
“Rhiannon is a well-rounded young lady with a very supportive family,” said Phillips. “Her experience with Surry Community golf will no doubt open many doors for her.”
The senior said she already has met some of the SCC golfers, like the coach’s son Austin Pendergraft and another female golfer named Alex.
“Everyone at Surry is nice and helpful and have taken me under their wing,” she said.
She likes the idea of starting college on a smaller level and working on her game before matriculating to a four-year school. SCC plays on some of the same courses she already has tried, so there is some familiarity, and she can focus on playing the course rather than on her opponents.
Now that she’s part of the team, Coach Pendergraft said he would like to get her out on the course with the rest of the squad this summer for some practice rounds.