Finally in the swing
Butler girls golf team finds success in 2nd season

By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor

SUMMIT TWP— Forming a team is one thing. Becoming a team is something else.
That's what the Butler High girls golf squad has discovered.
Butler created a girls golf program last year, but the groundwork was laid by Golden Tornado graduate Shayla Benninger, now a sophomore at Grove City College.
"For four years, I tried to get a girls team started in
Butler,"said Benninger's grandfather, Russ Bellis. "I knew Shayla wanted to play, but I had no luck.
"Eventually, she told me not to worry about it, that she was trying out for the boys team. She made the team, wound up playing in the WPIALgirls meet, and
Butler decided to start a girls golf program.
"Shayla deserves all the credit. She had the guts to do what she did,"Bellis added.
Butler had five girls on its first team last year and lost all 12 of the matches it played. Four of those girls — senior Jana Skiles, junior Arianna Rock, sophomores Mara Shingleton and Taylor Schnur — returned this season. Brianna Keelan, a freshman, also joined the team.
Entering Monday's home match against Mars at Hiland Golf Course,
Butler was 8-3, losing twice to defending section champion Blackhawk and once to Mars.
"Just gaining the experience of a year has made all the difference,"Shingleton said. "I've been golfing for a few years now, but last year was my first exposure to playing competitive golf.
"It's a totally different game. You have to get to know the competition, all of the courses — it's a different world."
The Golden Tornado faced section powerhouse Blackhawk in its first match last year and lost by one stroke. They never got that close again.
But they knew they could.
"Skill-wise, we've always had the potential to win,"Shingleton said.
Honing those skills was the key.
"We developed a lot of team support over the summer,"Skiles said. "We practiced and played together at least three days a week all summer.
"We began to know each other and help each other. We worked on each other's games."
Sarah Parker, whose family owns Hiland, talked with longtime
Butler boys golf coach Hank Keller a few years ago about eventually coaching a girls team.
Parker has been playing golf since she was 5.
"Igrew up on this game," she said. "I always wanted to teach it."
The coach said her golfers worked all summer on every phase of golf:chipping, shooting out of the sand, putting, drives, etc.
"With the dedication these girls have shown, honestly, I'm not surprised with where they're at," she said.
Shingleton is averaging 42. Skiles is at 49 while Rock averages 50 per nine holes.
"Going out and playing is one thing,"Rock said. "We had to acquire all-around knowledge of the game. That's what we've done since the end of last season.
"From there, it was a matter of putting it all together and proving to ourselves that we could do it."
That day might have come earlier this season in a match against Center, which was undefeated entering the contest.
The Tornado shot a season-best 184 and won the match by 12 strokes.
Some of the golfers on this year's team have interest in playing collegiate golf. Skiles plans to attend Purdue and will try to make the team there.
Rock admitted to having her eyes on a scholarship — and on leaving her mark on the program.
"With the year we're having, we're hoping to expand to eight golfers for next year's team and attracting more," she said.
Shingleton might have the most promising future of them all on a golf course.
"Mara has a lot of talent and if she stays with it, she could take her game a long way,"Parker said. "That means going out and hitting 100 to 200 balls a day and that requires a lot of dedication."