Verona girls golf coach Jon Rebholz knew seniors Courtney and Lauren Shorter were motivated for last week’s Big Eight Conference tournament at Evansville Golf Club.
He understood the significance of the final league meet for the 17-year-old twins.
The Shorters responded in grand fashion, putting their names at the top of the leaderboard. Courtney, Verona’s No. 2 golfer, earned medalist honors with a 5-over-par 77 on the tricky Evansville layout. Lauren, the team’s No. 1 golfer, finished second, two shots back.
“I was very happy with that,” Rebholz said. “I was super happy with those guys and how they played. I could tell they both were really focused. It was their last conference meet and they took it a little extra and really wanted to bear down. They stayed with it the whole round.”
The 1-2 finish gave Courtney — who is 10 minutes older than her sister — and Lauren oodles of confidence entering today’s WIAA Division 1 regional at Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton.
“It was really exciting for both of us to be in the top two and the only two in the 70s,” Courtney said.
Said Lauren, a UW-Green Bay recruit: “It was something we worked hard all season for and we showed our hard work has paid off. I think we both did really well.”
Courtney, who’s undecided about her college choice but would like to continue playing golf, said earning family bragging rights wasn’t her focus.
“We are only playing the course,” Courtney said. “We are happy with each other’s score. It’s more about how the team does.”
The Wildcats finished two shots behind Middleton, which won the Big Eight meet for the third consecutive season and is ranked fifth in this week’s state coaches’ poll. Verona’s team finish also buoyed its hopes for regional play — which includes nine teams, including Middleton — and beyond. Verona hosts a sectional Oct. 4 at Edelweiss Chalet Country Club in New Glarus.
“I feel like how we played has given us a lot of confidence going into regionals,” Lauren said. “Hopefully, we can make it to sectionals and then make it to state.”
Rebholz said the Wildcats, who received honorable mention recognition in this week’s state rankings, plan to enter regional play with the attitude of winning it, instead of just being one of the top four teams advancing.
“They are playing pretty well right now,” Rebholz said about the Shorter sisters. “It is good to have their two scores to anchor your team. Hopefully, we will be getting something from the 3, 4, 5 group.”
Lauren, who plays golf left-handed though she primarily is right-handed, has been in the varsity lineup since she was a sophomore in the 2015 season.
Verona, which won the Division 1 state tournament crown in 2014, placed fourth at state in 2015 as Lauren tied for 59th. A year ago, Lauren — the lone returning starter — finished tied for 34th at state, qualifying as an individual after the Wildcats missed advancing to state by two strokes at the sectional.
Lauren, who believes putting is her strength, said, “I’ve dialed in my short game,” this season, which includes a low score of 75.
Courtney, who started playing varsity last year as a junior, is a big hitter whose 77 at the conference tournament matched her season-best score.
“Courtney can hit the ball about as far as high school girls can hit it,” said Rebholz, who credited Courtney for improving her iron and wedge shots this season.
Rebholz, the boys coach who took over as coach of the girls program from Bailey Hildebrandt in 2016, has known the Shorter sisters since they were freshmen when he said he started working with the girls golfers. Sometimes it was difficult to tell them apart back then, but he said Lauren’s left-handed clubs were a big clue.
“When they were freshmen, it was pretty difficult,” Rebholz said, before joking, “They may have tried (to fool him), but I’m sly as a fox.”
He said both girls have “blossomed into good leaders” on a team that features four seniors — including Claire Swain and Alexis Gaillard — and sophomore Caitlyn Ott.
“I’ll miss them,” Rebholz said. “They’ve been a big part of what we’ve done this year. Their reach for this team goes beyond the scores they shoot. I’ve called them, ‘My girls.’ I’ve grown up with them. I’ve known them since they were freshmen. ... All the seniors have shown great leadership skills.”