McLean County High School has a golf team again after a 13-year hiatus in the sport.
While the team may be new this year, several of the people involved are linked to previous times when a Cougar held a club.
Head coach David Hicks played golf at MCHS in the late 1990s for then coach and team bus driver Tommy Burrough, our current superintendent of McLean County Public Schools. Hicks’ wife and assistant coach, Cary Hicks, was the girls’ golf coach at MCHS in 2007, the last season of golf prior to this return. The Hicks met at a golf scramble held at Royal Cypress Golf Course in Sacramento, later married and now live with their two sons, Fisher and Wallace, in Island.
Cary Hicks started playing golf in college and has high school coaching experience in girls’ powerlifting and soccer. David Hicks has been playing the game for most of his life, and while he may not have any previous coaching experience, former athletic director Marc Searcy stated, “His enthusiasm will translate well to being a good coach.”
Cary Hicks is beginning her 13th year in education and sixth as a science teacher at the high school. David Hicks worked as the AmeriCorps representative at the high school last year and has now been hired to teach math. Miles Puckett will also be serving as an assistant coach. Puckett has been an assistant coach for the MCHS baseball team for seven years and took up playing golf about 10 years ago. He is an engineer for the KY Transportation Cabinet and lives in Livermore with his wife, Auburn and their daughter, Maelynn.
Without a golf course still in business in McLean County, the team is very fortunate to have the support of Panther Creek Golf Course as their home course. Kevin Ferguson, owner and operator, and his entire staff have been extremely dedicated to the success of the program. Ferguson is a former teacher at MCHS, coaching both golf and basketball in the 1990s.
“We have had an overwhelming number of students playing here at the course for years, so I am excited that the program has been brought back,” Ferguson said.
The Cougar golf team currently has 16 boys and four girls on the roster. In high school golf, only the top five players can participate in matches and tournaments. This is determined by scores posted from rounds during practice as a team.
“So far we have been able to rotate out a few players from one event to the next,” David Hicks said. “My goal is to get as many kids in competition this year as possible.”
The team has a wide range of experience in the players, from some more accomplished golfers to several who have never held a club before joining the team. The coaching staff is focusing on teaching the rules, terminology and etiquette of the game, along with fostering the patience, focus and determination that it takes to be successful in the sport. Practices have been going well, and they are seeing great progress on the links.
Assistant coach Cary Hicks states that the kids are very coachable and what they may lack in skill at this point, they make up for in work ethic and sportsmanship.
“They do not get their heads down, they keep a smile on their faces and they are able to keep things in perspective,” she said.
One of the main goals this season is to introduce the game to as many kids as possible and for any kid to feel encouraged to give it a try. Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by multiple generations and gives families a great opportunity for shared activities. While golf is not an easy sport and can be very challenging at times, it also helps to develop skills that can benefit one in many aspects of life. It is also one of the few sports that can be played for a lifetime.
Golf is again another opportunity for the students here in McLean County. There is a great deal of excitement surrounding this new program, and the coaches hope to keep up that level of enthusiasm throughout this returning season and for many more to come.