Schoolgirl golf champ Alice Hwang seeks greater consistency in her game

Posted Oct. 15, 2012, at 7:55 p.m.
Alice Hwang displays her high school girls state golf title trophy and medal. She won Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro with an 84 on the Arrowhead Course.
Alice Hwang displays her high school girls state golf title trophy and medal. She won Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro with an 84 on the Arrowhead Course. Buy Photo

VASSALBORO, Maine — Alice Hwang of Bangor won the high school state schoolgirl championship Saturday at Natanis Golf Course, but she thought she could have played much better.

“I’ve never been able to consistently shoot what I’m able to,” she said.

She recorded a 12-over-par 84 to edge 2011 runner-up Monica Austin of Yarmouth by a stroke.

“It wasn’t like it was a difficult 84,” she said. “It was just a bad 84.”

Hwang, a junior at Bangor High School, said she made “a lot of foolish mistakes.”

“I started great, but I lost momentum,” Hwang said. “I was leaving things short.”

The primary strokes she left short, she said, were putts.

“I left at least four putts short,” said Hwang. “I wasn’t trusting myself.”

She didn’t leave them all short, but she wasn’t happy with the ones she did because she considered them all makeable putts.

She said all the putts she did make, she should have made, “but I left easy things short,” too.

The mistakes are also frustrating her.

“They keep me from making my score go really low,” she said of the mistakes.

Despite her feelings about her play, it has been a pretty good year by most standards for Hwang.

She won the New England Women’s Golf Association’s junior championship in mid-July. It’s held as part of the NEWGA Championship, which also was held at Natanis this year.

Two weeks later, Hwang picked up the Maine Women’s Amateur junior title at Augusta Country Club in Manchester.

Hwang and her father, Ki, have been working on improving her game by building a solid foundation.

“I have a good structure, very stable,” she said of her stance.

That allows her to get more out of her swing than belies her 5-foot-4-inch height.

“I’m able to manipulate my body during the swing so I get better distance than some girls,” she said. “I try to have a good rhythm.”

Her key, though, is her accuracy.

“I’m able to hit the ball very straight,” she said. “Over this season, I’ve gotten really straight and my chipping is under control.”

Bangor coach Rob Jarvis, an assistant pro at Bangor Municipal Golf Course, has been impressed by the 15-year-old.

“Alice is a player that happens to be a girl,” he said. “She’s a serious player and the guys like that.”

Jarvis didn’t coddle her, either. He has a system for earning playing spots on the varsity team, and Hwang played in more than half a dozen team matches as well as in the state Class A team tourney.

“She earned her spot every time she played,” said Jarvis.

“Hopefully, she’ll be a trailblazer for more girls,” he added.

Hwang sees improvement as a goal. It might not be readily apparent that he has done so, she said, but it’s more achievable that she can.

“Per round I shoot, I might not have the best score, but I know I can go lower. It’s just a matter of time.”

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