As a team, Oak Grove has shot an average of about 360, which is the lowest in school history. Senior leader Sophie Brantner — who won the Region Girls Golf Senior Athlete of the Year — holds an average of 76, also the best in school history, as state finals loom.
Sophie, along with sisters Josie Brantner and Sylvie Brantner, and teammate Lauren Holstad, also earned all-region honors.
Since the beginning of the season, the team has been able to make strides, said Oak Grove coach Region Coach of the Year Laine Brantner.
“It’s been fun to see the growth,” Brantner said. “My team motto for the girls is to have fun every day and get a little better. They’ve really embraced that and tried to do that. It’s been fun to see the improvements of the girls from the beginning. In golf, in just a two-month time frame, you can make a lot of improvements.”
Outside of the senior Sophie, the Grovers are a young team. However, the mix of young and old students has been beneficial as they are “Not only competing, but becoming friends and getting to know (each other),” Brantner said.
“In most sports, seniors and juniors don’t spend a lot of time with the seventh- or eighth-graders, for instance. But, in golf, they do,” he said. “It allows the younger girls to have someone to look up to and to learn from with how to conduct themselves on the golf course and how to learn the game. That’s a really cool thing to see.”
On the individual level, Sophie Brantner will be trying to chase Kindred’s Avery Bartels, who beat her at the region championship. As the two have battled on golf courses through the years, they’ve formed a friendship.
“Obviously, Avery is a tremendous golfer,” said coach Brantner. “It’s been great for Sophie over the years to play with her to push Sophie to get better. I think Sophie has beaten her twice in the last two years. So she hasn’t beaten her a lot, but she has been able to be up there close to her and learn a lot in terms of how to play better. Those two have actually become really close friends, which is kind of fun.”
Between routine visits and competing in the North Dakota Women’s Amateur event at Souris Valley Golf Course, the team has some familiarity with the course.
Coach Brantner notes that the course will favor accuracy, not just power.
“From a course perspective, it’s a really good course and one that benefits hitting the ball straight,” he said. “It’s not so much the benefits of length, it’s more of an accuracy or placement golf course. If you’re hitting it straight — no matter how far you hit it — you’re going to have a good shot.”
Competing for Oak Grove on Monday and Tuesday are the Brantner sisters, senior Sophie, sophomore Josie and seventh-grader Sylvie, along with sophomore Lauren Holstad, eighth-grader Josie Geiger and seventh-grader Ellie Zuger.