After finishing fifth in the state tournament in 2021, Marshalltown girls’ golf is preparing for the spring season with a confident mindset and a strong foundation.
Four of the six members of the Bobcats’ varsity squad played a part in the state tournament team, including three seniors led by Amber Henson, who will be attending Drake University next year as a member of the school’s golf team. Amber recorded a top-10 finish in 2021 at state and had a strong summer golf schedule in preparation for this season. Brynn Van Buren and Norah Wilson also return from last year’s squad, as does junior Autumn Thompson.
Head coach Lucas Johnson said the Bobcats are thankful to have a strong returning cast given the difficult weather in preseason.
“They know the unpredictability of it,” Johnson said. “The fact that we have that core of returners has definitely benefited us just in preparation for this season, so that’s a huge bonus for us. Not too worried there.”
When Marshalltown first takes to the course on Tuesday against Mason City at Elmwood Country Club it will have two newcomers in the varsity lineup, both freshmen who have practiced with the Bobcats in the couple of years before.
One of them is Natalie Henson, Amber’s sister and someone who Johnson said has been around the game of golf for her entire life. Johnson said Natalie’s distance will be something that impresses people this season. Having both of the sisters on the team and playing and competing with each other is going to be a boost for the team, Johnson added.
“[Natalie] is gonna open a lot of peoples’ eyes with her length off the tee, it’s impressive,” Johnson said. “She maximizes her swing speed and everything like that.
“I think [Amber and Natalie] are definitely going to feed off each other and Amber is definitely somebody who’s helped out Natalie a lot over the years.”
The second newcomer is Gaby Estabrook, who will be appearing in her second varsity sport of the year after making an impact at times for the Bobcat volleyball squad. Estabrook is a different player than Natalie, Johnson said, and her short game and ball striking is what will get her going during the first part of the season.
There are expectations for this group, but Johnson said nothing is set in stone given the unpredictability of regionals and postseason golf. He’s expecting the Bobcats to put in the work and make the necessary improvements in an effort to reach the heights they were at last season, when Marshalltown was second in the team standings after the first day of state golf — with only five players on the roster.
This group is definitely primed and they have goals to make that return,” Johnson said. “From a depth perspective, we have more than we’ve ever had.
“With Gaby and Natalie and then our returning core of seniors, the sky’s the limit for this group.”
The Mason City meet will start at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
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