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Girls golf coaches put out call for even more growth, success

In 51 percent of cases, the Raider golf team wants you.

Coaches of the girls squad are looking to grow a program, even further, that has stepped forward in the last two years. They want to add to its membership and keep chipping away at their Big Rivers Conference competition - which they have bested at late.

To that end, there will be a golf clinic for Hudson Middle School students in spring, it has been announced - even though the current season ended less than two weeks ago and the team is just newly back from another, more successful state meet. While there the squad cut 50 strokes and the clinic, for which times and dates will be announced, will show younger golfers how they can later become Raiders and do the same.

"The work ethic of the team was outstanding. The only thing that would get them off the course or range (when practicing) was darkness," said one of its coaches, Ed Rankin.

This was the girls first year being able to play and practice closer to home at the Hudson Golf Club, and the support of golf pros Curtis Jorgenson and Lane Whitcomb was a big factor in the girl's development, Rankin said.

"The team will lose seniors Katie Ecker and Kiki Buege, but will return with five strong players and should be stronger than ever," Rankin said.

A huge part of the girl's success can be attributed to second-year Coach Jackie Gundersen, who has taken the team to state both seasons, Rankin said. Her experience as a college Division I golfer and knowledge of the game has been a big factor, he said.

"Her attitude and competitiveness has rubbed off on the girls. Jackie has used golf as a way of teaching the girls about life and themselves," Rankin said. He added with tongue-in-cheek that their coach's competitive edge even extends to usually mundane activities such as driving to get them to meets in a timely fashion. They have to trek around western Wisconsin and get there in time to physically and mentally prepare.

"The girls say they feel less tension arriving at matches now that I drive the van instead of her," Rankin said with a laugh.