New Prague girls’ golf coach Dan Holgate doesn’t need a sixth sense to know what’s going through Taylor Ledwein’s mind.
Actually, the same could be said for anyone watching the Trojans’ star senior go about her business on the golf course.
“If it’s a shot she doesn’t like, that club goes back into the bag pretty hard,” Holgate said. “She shows a lot of emotion on the course, and you know right away if she doesn’t like a shot.”
That used to be to Ledwein’s detriment. A bad shot — and subsequent bad reaction — would turn into a bad hole, which then would spiral into a bad round.
Today? The defending Class 3A state champion has a simple thought process: The next shot is the most important one.
“[My emotions] used to hurt my game a lot, but now I feel like it can be an advantage,” she said. “It kind of gets me going, and on that next shot, I’m going to really try to focus and make sure it’s a good one.”
Ledwein’s fiery demeanor was on display June 6 when she wrapped up Class 3A, Section 2, medalist honors, grinding out a two-round total of 155 in a meet where she admittedly didn’t play her best. It showed her toughness and desire, Holgate said, not to mention her sheer talent.
It also puts her one step closer to defending her state crown June 14-15 at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. She’d be the second Trojan to win back-to-back titles. Kenzie Neisen, who just finished her sophomore golf season at Oklahoma State, won in 2013 and 2014, which means another Ledwein title would be four consecutive for New Prague.
“I’m excited to see how she plays,” Holgate said. “I think there is some pressure to defend, but we don’t talk about it much. I’m excited to see how she reacts to it all. She’s worked really hard to build to this.”
Holgate thinks back to the summers of practice she put in, spending hours every day at New Prague Golf Course honing her game — and that was just when she was in grade school.
“She’s just always been really driven to get better; very passionate about the game,” the coach said.
Said Ledwein, “I realized early on that if I really wanted to reach that level where I was good enough to play in college and at that next level, I had to work for it.”
The results started coming. She finished in a tie for 16th at state as an eighth-grader, helping her team win the 2012 Class 3A title. She tied for 10th the next spring, and finished in a tie for sixth as a sophomore.
In 2015, Ledwein fired rounds of 73-76 to win by four.
“You could really see how it all built up to that,” Holgate said. “Every year, she’s gotten better and better. She’s bigger and stronger and can hit the ball a long way now. Her short game’s always been strong, and the work she puts in — she doesn’t stop getting better.”
Ledwein, who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship last summer, will play college golf at Bradley University in Illinois. She’s excited, she said, but doesn’t want to overlook what’s ahead of her this week. Perhaps surprisingly, Ledwein is taking a laid-back approach to her final high school meet.
“With it being the last one, I just want to have fun and play my best,” she said. “That’s all I can hope for.”