John will go it alone this spring

Ada junior Lauren John, shown competing in the state tournament last spring, is the only member of the Lady Cougar golf team this year. John will open the season March 25, at Seminole.

Junior Lauren John will be a one-girl show this spring for the Ada High School girls golf program.

For now, AHS girls golf coach Ron Anderson has run out of players.

Over a decade ago, Anderson arrived at Ada High to coach boys basketball and girls golf and had the same problem.

“Ada had produced some really good individual girls golfers over the years. I was surprised when I returned to Ada to coach that they hadn’t fielded a complete girls team ever,” he recalled. “With the success of the boys program, I was shocked girls were not playing golf.”

Crystal Howry, Toni Pyrum and Taylor Howard all had success as individuals in the Ada High girls golf program.

Pyrum and Howard both advanced their careers at Oklahoma City University, winning NAIA national championships and All-American honors.

Howard is now the head girls golf coach at Plainview High School and the Lady Indians will be favored this season to win a third consecutive state championship.

With a mixture of softball players, basketball players, cheerleaders and others, Anderson was able to field Ada’s first-ever girls golf team during his second year on the job. He just had to do some searching.

“I hit the halls to find some athletes that I thought would first enjoy the experience of playing golf but, equally important, would put the time and hard work required to play golf,” he said.

“I’ll be honest. There was not a lot of support for this experiment. Some felt that the girls would not work hard or take it seriously,” Anderson continued. “They were wrong. After the first season, interest grew, and Ada has qualified six teams to the state tournament and three individuals have qualified.”

Anderson tried to find John some partners this spring, but to no avail.

“This year I actually did hit the halls again but could not generate enough interest,” he said.

It will be the first time since Anderson arrived on the scene 12 years ago that Ada won’t field a complete team.

Anderson said he believes that won’t stop the Ada program from reaching state for the ninth time since he’s been coach. John and teammate Hanna Price qualified for state last year. John finished 38th in the tough field.

“I expect her to make it back to the state tournament again this year,” Anderson said. “Lauren has improved each and every year. She works hard on the course and plays during the summer more than most young players.”

Anderson said one of John’s best attributes is that she’s a smart golfer.

“She’s one of the smartest golfers I’ve coached and rarely makes mistakes on the course,” he said. “She makes my job easy. I didn’t make it easy on her, because I’ve got her playing in some pretty tough tournaments. But she’ll be up to the challenge.”

John was supposed to get her spring season started last Monday at the Chickasaw Pointe Golf Club in Kingston, but that tournament was rained out.

The next tournament on the list is March 25 in Seminole.

Anderson hopes to develop a strong junior high program that will pay dividends for the high school team.

“It’s certainly best that kids start young, and we do have a few junior high girls playing this year,” he explained. “We also have a sixth grader — Payton ‘Beans’ Factor — that could play for me right now. She’s that good.”

Leslie Landrum is the Ada junior high girls golf coach.

“So, along with coach Landrum, we’ll have to keep these girls interested, and hopefully they will continue to play on at the high school level,” he said.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.