Shiprock golfer qualifies for state

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

GRANTS, N.M., April 25, 2013

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(Special to the Times – Curtis Ray Benally)

Shiprock's Terra King attempts a long putt during the Kirtland Central Broncos Golf Invitational on Monday at the Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland, N.M.

I n New Mexico, high school golf is stretch out to about four months with a fall and spring season. Each year there are several tournaments to play in with each team limited to 10 tournaments. To make state you need three legs to qualify.

Shiprock golfer Terra King completed the minimum requirements last fall so on April 18 at the Coyote del Malpais Golf Course in Grants, N.M., King wasn't going for broke as she finished the tournament five shots over par.

"I couldn't play in the wind," the Shiprock senior said. "It was too cold to play golf but I'm trying to improve my game."

At that tournament she finished at 97, which was quite understandable since only two girls earned individual legs for state.

"Today's conditions were brutal so it was tough out there," Shiprock coach Vernetta Noble said. "But she's doing very well. She's made big improvements from last year and she's already got her fourth leg done."

She accomplished that two days before the Grants tournament at the Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, Colo.

"She's already made state but she's trying to improve her seeding for state," Noble said. "The more times you qualify, the higher you're seed so she's working on that."

As the school's only varsity member on the girls' team, King will be the only representative for Shiprock at this year's New Mexico Class 1A-3A state golf tournament, which will be held on May 13-14 in Socorro, N.M.

"There's been tremendous progress, not only with her but with the entire team," Noble said. "When I started coaching we only had a handful of kids. Right now we have 10 kids including to two at the junior high level."

Noble said she's trying to rebuild the program but the process has been slow. During its glory years, the Shiprock coach pointed out the school claimed back-to-back state girls titles with the first one coming during the 2000 season.

Individually, the Shiprock program has had two state titleholders with Glynnis Price winning it in 2005. A year after that her brother, Kevin brought home the state title to Shiprock.

During those competitive years the program was under Stephen Williams, who now coaches the girls' team at nearby Kirtland Central.

"I was blessed because I had a real good core of girls," Williams said. "I had Glynnis Price and her father is a big golfer. Her brother was part of the team that won the state championship."

Williams said its imperative to get kids started early otherwise "it's very difficult to get kids to play at the state level," he said.

To help level the playing field, Noble is willing to teach the youth of Shiprock how to play golf.

"Anybody that is interested, I would be more than happy to take them in," she said. "I would love for kids to come out and join the golf program and try something new.

"My whole thing is I would rather teach a kid the correct way to play golf instead of correct bad habits," Noble added.

And while playing golf can be expensive Noble said they have the resources and equipment, thanks to the Dalton Ranch Walton Women's Golf Association and the Four Corners Golf Association, to offer the program at school.

"They donated golf clubs to the program," she said of the two organizations. "If it weren't for those donations I can guarantee that none of our kids would be out today because we wouldn't have the equipment."

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