Sep. 14—CARRINGTON, N.D. — When Kacie Rexin first started playing golf, other members of her family might have been able to beat her.
“My family introduced me to golf when I was very young and I have loved it ever since,” Rexin, a senior golfer at Carrington High School, said. “I love working hard and trying to get better because you can always improve on golf.”
Now, 13 years later, she’s improved to the point where she’s pretty close to beating not only her family but everyone else in the state.
“I have put a lot of time into golf throughout the years,” Rexin said. “I love golfing, so I just practice and play at our course in Carrington in the spring and the summer.”
Rexin said she also played in a lot of Dakota Junior Golf Association tournaments this summer all across North Dakota to help prepare her for tournaments during the golf season. Rexin’s best round of golf in a tournament was a 75 at Oxbow Country Club during the Class A & B Crossover.
“I remember feeling relaxed and confident, and was just having fun,” Rexin said. “I got to play a great course with two of the best golfers in the state, Avery Bartels and Rose Solberg, so it was just super fun to play with them.”
Bartels, a senior out of Kindred, won the 2022 Class B individual state title. In April, she committed to the North Dakota State University women’s golf team.
Solberg, a now-sophomore at Fargo Davies, won the Class A individual state title her freshman year.
Bartels and Solberg went 1-2 at Oxbow while Rexin placed third. Rexin said after her final prep season wraps, she hopes to play golf in college and will make a decision after the season is over.
“She’s pretty good,” Carrington head coach Wayne Shipman said of Rexin. “She’s been playing pretty well. She did the strength and conditioning program that we have in town here and now she’s hitting the ball about 20 to 25 yards farther on her drives. I’d say that’s what has helped her out the most in being able to score a little better.
“She golfs every single day in the summer,” he said. “She deserves to have some success for how much work she has put into it.”
In addition to Rexin, the Cardinals have a sophomore, a pair of eighth graders and a seventh grader comprising the team this season. Carrington is in the southeast region along with teams like Kindred and Oak Grove.
“I would encourage other girls to try golf because it is a sport that you can do for the rest of your life,” Rexin said. “It is super fun and enjoyable to just be out at the golf course with your friends.”
Carrington has made it to the state tournament as a team every year since 2019 except for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously you want to win the region but it’s really tough when you have teams like Kindred and Oak Grove that are really good,” Shipman said. “For us, we hope to get third as a team and you can also qualify (for State) if you shoot 15-over or less on a course. That’s what we shoot for.”
In the three years, Shipman has been the coach at Carrington, the Cardinals’ numbers have remained steady but throughout the state, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of girls competing.
“The first year I was coaching they moved the season to the fall they were worried about losing some kids to volleyball but (numbers) actually increased,” Shipman said. “I think we had around 50 to 60 golfers my first year and now it is over 100 in our region. Kindred and Oak Grove alone have 45 or so by themselves.”
So how does a team of five compete with a team four times its size?
According to Rexin, it’s by focusing on the controllables.
“Each team can only count four scores so we might have fewer people to choose from but we just try to play our best each round and know that it will be enough to compete with the other schools,” Rexin said. “We have a lot of young girls on our team who have been working hard. Our coaches have been really helping us with our chipping and putting with the goal to be playing our best golf by regionals and state.”
Shipman and his crew practice at CrossRoads Golf Club in Carrington which serves as a built-in advantage as many teams in the area don’t have a golf course in town limits. The squad also hosted an invitational there on Sept. 6.
“It’s an 18-hole that is in pretty good shape most of the time,” Shipman said. “We have a driving range and a putting green area that is big enough for us to practice hitting balls from different yardages.”
According to the calendar, Rexin and the rest of the Class B golf scene only have about two weeks of season left to practice. The Region 2 tournament is set for Sept. 15 at Maple River’s Golf Course. The state tournament, also slated to be played at Maple River, is scheduled to be held Sept. 25-26.
“My goal is for our team to make it to the state tournament and my goal for my final season of golf is to shoot as many rounds in the 70s as I can, and just to go as low as possible,” Rexin said. “I hope that Carrington’s girls golf program can continue growing and gain more girls. We have a lot of younger girls on our team and I hope they continue to put the time in to get better.”