By Kevin Wilson
The biggest improvement in Cassidy Merrick’s golf game this season, at least according to the Portales senior, has been her accuracy on chipping.
Chipping is a process that Merrick likes to call the “ups and downs.” Her golf season so far, has had more of the ups.
Merrick, a three-time team medalist for Portales, has been the leader on the greens for the Lady Rams this year as well. In her first three tournaments, Merrick earned all three individual qualifying scores (legs) needed to qualify for the Class 1A-3A state tournament.
Merrick helped Portales earn three team legs as well, with the final qualifying score coming in a tournament Tuesday at Roswell.
“Since I’ve got my three qualifying legs,” Merrick said, “I’ve just been trying to keep my scores as low as possible to help the team qualify. Now we’ve got that taken care of, we’re just trying to prepare ourselves for state.”
Her next goal is to place in the top three at state in May, if not win the event.
“I believe I can do it if I just stay focused and work on my mental game and not so much my swing,” Merrick said. “When I shot a 76 in Lovington, what allowed me to do that was my focus. I took it one shot at a time.”
Expectations are high for Merrick, both from herself and her coach.
“She’s a huge factor. If she shoots well, it’s easy to qualify,” Portales girls golf coach Brenda Gomez said. “She needs to be averaging 80, which I think she can do. We’ve played some hard courses, but she’s got to be able to shoot 80 consistently.”
Oddly enough, she never expected to stick with golf when she played it with her family five years ago.
“At first I didn’t like golf, I thought it was boring,” Merrick said. “But it got really addictive.”
Golf got addictive enough for Merrick that it became her only sport, as she said good-bye to volleyball and basketball. As the basketball coach, Gomez was a little disappointed to lose Merrick, but she has no complaints as a golf coach.
“She’s taken lots of lessons and worked with all kinds of people to get better,” Gomez said.
Merrick is hopeful that she’ll improve enough to play Division-I golf, specifically at New Mexico State. Merrick said she has received offers from other schools, but prefers the challenge of walking on at NMSU while she studies business.
“School comes first,” Merrick said. “I think that’s a really good school and I’d like to play for that school.”