Cara Heisterkamp has tied a course record, broken 30 in a nine-hole match and medaled in 10 out of 13 events since August.
She shot a 65 during a tryout round at Sweetbriar Golf Club, then went on to average a 68.4 score in her 10 regular season wins. As a part of the American Junior Golf Association, she spent her summer playing in tournaments in different parts of the country for an organization that frequently attracts the attention of college coaches.
Add that all together and, in terms of pure golf, the Magnificat freshman is an assassin with a club in her hands.
Just don’t expect her to take herself too seriously. In only her first varsity year, she’s having way too much fun.
And now she’s headed to state.
After firing a 74 at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club in Hudson during the district tournament Oct. 13 and finishing second on the individual leaderboard, Heisterkamp will now get to test herself at the Ohio State University Gray Course with rounds this Friday and Saturday.
“It’s going to be so much fun,” said Heisterkamp, a Westlake resident who was taught the game by her father, Mike, the general manager and golf director at Chagrin Valley Country Club. “I have a good bit of friends in the high school golf world, because I’ve been playing in the AJGA and other organizations since I was 12. The state champion last year (in Div. I), Anna Ritter (of New Albany), is one of my closest friends. We played in a few tournaments together already. I’m excited to play with her. It’s just going to be a lot of fun.”
When she shares the OSU Gray Course with so many other talented golfers from across the state, don’t expect Heisterkamp to change her style much. When the mood is light, she’s in her element.
“I think a lot of people struggle with taking golf as a super-competitive, cutthroat thing where you have to focus 100 percent of the time, and sometimes that works for people,” she said. For me personally, I just go out there and play my game. If I play well, if I shoot a 67 like I did at Hudson Country Club (a women’s course record she tied on Aug. 24), that’s a great day. But if I shoot an 85, I’m not really going to dwell on it.”
The keys to her success all season have been her booming drives–topping out at 283 yards–and her ability to recover if one of those tee shots misses the fairway. She’s gotten confident enough with her irons, and her wedges in particular, that she was able to purchase a T-shirt that reads “My punch out game is #Elite”, and not have it be an exaggeration.
But lately, every facet of her game has come together, and at just the right time. After wrapping up a standout regular season, Heisterkamp brought the thunder to the Division I sectional at Sweetbriar on Oct. 6, shooting a 69 and winning the tournament by nine strokes. She followed it up with a 37 on the front and back nine last week at districts.
For first-year Blue Streaks coach Gina Battistone, it was apparent that these types of low rounds were possible for Heisterkamp, who became a leader on the team almost immediately.
“We had two rounds of tryouts, and in her first round of tryouts she shot 65,” Battistone said. “So right away, we knew she was going to be good. And we knew she was going to be a leader on the team because she didn’t even really know any of the girls coming into the season, and she was already introducing herself and getting to know everyone, and everyone knew her so well, just at the start of the season.”
That’s the thing with Heisterkamp. As she’s carding scores in the 60s and climbing leaderboards, she’s also cracking jokes and chatting everyone up. On a Blue Streaks team loaded with talented golfers that qualified as a group for district for the sixth consecutive season, she’s fit right in.
“I’m not very serious,” she said. “Some people are confused about it. I have a few teammates who said they thought I’d be this super-serious, cutthroat golfer who was trying to get these college scholarships. I’m super light-hearted. If someone (hits a bad shot), I try to pick them up and say it’s okay. I try to talk. I have a few friends who have actually told me to stop talking on the golf course because I talk a lot. Most of my teammates will probably say that I’m just there to keep everything light.”
As for the state tournament, Heisterkamp intends to play as even a first round as possible, then try to strike if she’s in a good position by the second day. Three-under par won the Division I tournament last year, and she’s going to keep that in mind while having her usual good time.
“I think if I just go out there and don’t do anything special, I can shoot even par, just have a regular round,” she said. “But if I play well and make putts and start hitting it the way I know I can, I think I can shoot four, five-under for one round. So I’m really looking forward to it. I just want to put myself in the lead or just in position to go out the second day and really do something.”
Division I district results
In addition to Heisterkamp’s state-qualifying round Oct. 13 at Ellsworth Meadows, the Blue Streaks shot a team 337 to finish sixth. The top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to Columbus.
For the Blue Streaks, Ellen O’Leary tied for 18th with an 81. Keely McGinty of Avon Lake tied for 19th with an 83, while the Shoregals finished ninth with a team 362. Avon’s Aubrie Rush tied for 36th with an 86, St. Joseph Academy’s Katie Kane tied for 50th with a 90, and Westlake’s Kayla Schuemann tied for 79th with a 102.
State-qualifying teams were Louisville (316), Green (319), Medina Highland (330) and Massillon Jackson (335). Joining Heisterkamp in the individual category were Solon’s Kaitlin Kormuth (75), Canton Hoover’s Grace May (77) and Kent Roosevelt’s Maren Seaholts (79).
The boys Division I district tournament took place Oct. 12 at Pine Hills Golf Club in Hinckley, with no local golfers qualifying for state. Teams advancing were Akron Hoban (292), St. Ignatius (299), Hudson (299) and Stow-Munroe Falls (305). Individually, Ben Ramold (Massillon Jackson, 72), Ben Cors (Walsh Jesuit, 72), Zachary Sieverts (Massillon Jackson, 73) and Darin Hudak (Tallmadge, 73) all made it out.
As a team, Rocky River shot 335 to finish 15th, with Will Bennett and Luke Dietrich both shooting an 82, followed by Hayden Weaver with an 84 and Nick Tianello with an 87. Avon wrapped up its monster season with an 18th-place finish (348), led by Nolan King (82), Brenton Dill (85) and Jack Gerborg (88). Individually, North Ridgeville’s Ben Lampe and St. Edward’s Colin Myslenski both shot 86 and Avon Lake’s Dan Donegan shot 89.
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.