Local golfers Maggie Lamppa and Izzy Depew of Mesabi East and Tori Olson of North Woods are ready to make their mark on their respective state golf tournaments, which tee off today.
Lamppa and Depew, both juniors, will take on The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, while Olson, a freshman, will challenge the links in Becker at the Pebble Creek Golf Club.
“She’s put in a lot of time the last couple of years,’’ Giants head coach Steve Grams said about Lamppa.
Lamppa was ahead of the curve throughout the season and finished first or second in all of the East Range Conference meets.
What was behind her strong play so early in the season?
Grams said she went to Oklahoma with her dad and some of his friends before the golf season started in northern Minnesota. “They played 256 some holes before the season even started. So she got 36 holes in for multiple days before any of the girls in our area touched a club.
“I think that helped her out a lot’’ by making her more consistent and confident in her game, he added.
Grams, Lamppa and Depew have never seen the Class AA course at The Ridges at Sand Creek before, which will take some getting used to. The Giants and all the other golfers did have a practice round Monday to make adjustments as needed.
“It will take a little bit of course management and a little bit of strategy’’ for Lamppa, “but I think she can do quite well. Hopefully she can put a plan together to compete with some of the better golfers.’’
Lamppa, who came in fifth at sections, is “very consistent on her driver, she can get it down the middle,’’ Grams added. “Her putting has really been effective this year.’’
However, “where she did struggle, her putter wasn’t there,’’ he said. “I guarantee that she’s been working on it.’’
Depew brings a good driving game, which helped her finish eighth at sections.
“She hits the ball very long. I’m telling her this week she might not have to pull out her driver because she can hit a seven wood or a five wood as far as a lot of these other girls,’’ Grams said. “So then we’re going to have to rely on her short game, which will have to be accurate and consistent also.’’
Grams knows she has it in her.
“Izzy has so much potential. We just have to make sure we’re making the right decisions on every shot.’’
After the practice round, Grams and his golfers are going to sit down and make adjustments to the course.
“There are lots of out of bounds stakes. We don’t see them up in northern Minnesota too much. In addition, the course has a lot of water and some sand. “They’re going to have to be strategic and they’re gonna have to hit their targets.’’
Consistency is a very big key in the sport, Grams added.
“Golfing is tough too because it’s also an emotional drain. She’s pretty level headed too. She doesn’t get too rattled,’’ he said of Lamppa. “That’s a big part of all golf’’ because it can be frustrating at times.
Grams and Depew (third in the ERC in scoring) will take things hole by hole because “she gets a little nervous,’’ which is common for all of the competitors at state. “She probably doesn’t know how good she is or could be.’’
The head coach said his goal for Lamppa is in the mid-80s, while Depew is hoping for the low 90s to mid-80s.
“I think she can compete with some of the best around here,’’ Grams said of Lamppa. “She has the potential to do quite well if she can get her game going.’’
No matter the outcome, the head coach is extremely proud of the girls for making it to state. No other Giants have qualified in almost 10 years, he added.
North Woods head coach Kandi Olson said a lot of practice time for Tori Olson and setting goals has helped the freshman succeed on the golf course this spring.
The young golfer used those things to finish in fifth place overall at the Section 7A Tournament and earn her second trip to state. She also went in 2019 as a seventh-grader and 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I found out after the tournament that she had done a lot of research on her own as to how to be a better competitor in situations like that and how to bring your scores down,’’ coach Olson said. “She was doing a lot of mental training as well as physical training.’’
The coach, who is also Tori’s mother, said, “You could see that she was growing bit by bit during the season and it was just a matter of time as to when things were really going to click together.’’
Tori challenged herself in 2019, as well.
“She really pushed herself that season as well to change her game dramatically that season. She knew she would have to be a counting score that year and she pushed herself until she got to a point where she would be a valuable asset to the team.’’
Coach Olson is confident Tori’s skills will suit the course at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker Tuesday and Wednesday.
“She’s just a real steady player. She’s got a really good middle to short game and I think that’s really going to benefit her when she gets down there. As long as she can get off the tee OK, she should be able to put together a good score each day.’’
Practice leading up to the State Meet will help, as well.
“We’re going to really spend some time these next couple of days getting off the tee exactly where she wants to be. As long as she’s got her chipping game and her putting game and approach shots going OK, she should be fine at that course.’’
Her older brother Tate and older sister Coley both went to state numerous times prior to Tori’s trips.
That should pay dividends for the younger Olson, too.
“Even though she’s only been to the course once’’ as a player, “she’s been there many times in her lifetime. Visually seeing the course and where to be on the course and where not to be on the course definitely benefits her,’’ coach Olson said. “She’s seen the pressure play that comes with it and knows how to handle some of that pressure a little better.’’
In addition to daily goals at the tournament, “she just wants to go in and shoot her best state scores. She wants to improve upon her last state scores, which I don’t think will be a problem at all,’’ the coach added.