PEQUOT LAKES -- They may not have shot their best rounds but the experience will motivate them for years.
Pequot Lakes High School graduate Liz Meschke and junior Jackie Heslop competed the three-round American Junior Golf Association IZZO/Compaq Junior Championship at Grand View Lodge's Preserve course Aug. 23-25 and what they learned might be better than winning it.
For Heslop, who started volleyball practice but took three days off to play in the golf tournament, her focus was on the court, not the fairways.
"I've been concentrating on volleyball for the past two weeks so I haven't been to the golf course," said Heslop, the starting setter for the Patriots this fall. "That might have taken something away.
"It was fun. It was my first tournament from the white tees (girls usually play from the reds). It was an awesome learning experience for me.
"I stuck with it. I kept going lower with my scores. Since it was my first time I'm hoping to do it more next year."
Heslop shot 90 the first day and shot one stroke better each day, with an 89 Thursday and a final round of 88 to close with a 267.
The biggest problem for Heslop was the course distance, which her game wasn't accustomed to at the time of the tournament.
"Right now I'm not strong enough to hit the ball as far as I needed," said Heslop, who took home a fourth-place finish at the Class A state individual golf tournament last June. "Some of the par fours turned into par fives for me.
"The greens were really fast. I just had to get used to it. By the third day they weren't too bad."
Heslop enjoyed meeting players from all over the country. She liked the fact the tournament was at the Preserve and has already set up lessons with Grand View's Bill Moseley to work on her distance.
Heslop plans on participating in more AJGA tournaments next year because of the high level of competition.
"Looking at girls that are my age and shooting the lights out it was really eye-opening," said Heslop. "Next summer is going to be a lot more intense than this summer."
Meschke who's attending Concordia College this fall to play golf and study pre-medicine, thought the tournament and the competition was a good tune up for the upcoming fall golf season.
"It was good because it helped me to get over that intimidation," Meschke said, "because there were some really good players there. To see that I can compete, I was shooting as well as a lot of them.
"Relaxing is my biggest thing. There were so many putts that I should have and could have made but you always say that after a round. If I relax, like in smaller tournaments, I can play better. It was good for college, playing with better players."
Meschke's scoring was a little sporadic compared to Heslop's with an 84 on the first day, then a round of 88 Thursday and an 87 Friday. Her three-day total of 259 was good enough for 12th place.
"I played well," said Meschke, a participant at four state golf meets, including winning the team title with Little Falls in 1998. "I had a little trouble on the greens.
"The course was in great shape and the greens were nice. I was really impressed. I just didn't play as well as I would have liked to. I had a little trouble putting.
"I was over-trying. I wanted to do so good that I made myself uptight over the whole tournament. I just wanted to do so good I made myself too tense."
Meschke shot an 82 in the first round of the state tournament in June and finished with an 80 for a 162 and a seventh-place finish at the St. Cloud Country Club.
Meschke and the Cobbers are preparing for the upcoming season. This weekend is their first qualifying event to make the traveling team. Hopefully, Meschke's first match will be Sept. 8 at Wildflower Golf Course in Detroit Lakes.
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