The results show remarkable consistency, even if Anni Heck feels as though very little has remained the same.
Heck is just a sophomore on the Visitation girls’ golf team, but she already has three top-10 finishes at the Class 2A tournament on her résumé. She was sixth as a seventh-grader in 2012 and finished tied for seventh in eighth grade. As a freshman in 2014, she finished fourth, just six shots back of co-medalists Maggie Heggerston of Pequot Lakes and Kate Smith of Detroit Lakes.
Those finishes are about the only aspect of Heck’s game that have remained constant in the past few years. The most noticeable: She has made sizable changes to her swing that can be attributed to a growth spurt.
“She’s had to have grown about a foot since she was a seventh-grader,” Visitation coach Ann Feitl said.
Between her freshman and sophomore years, she grew 6 inches.
Now nearly 5-9, Heck is no longer forced to plot her way around a course by relying on a precise short game to salvage scores and compete with bigger, stronger players. She has added power — plenty of it, her coach said — and she has an all-around different approach to the game.
“All my life, I was a shorter hitter, and now I’m outdriving people who used to always outdrive me,” she said, adding “It makes it so much easier; all I have to do now is focus on hitting greens and making putts.”
Those results have kept coming. Heck came in at No. 8 in the Minnesota Golf Association’s most recent individual rankings, which don’t separate by class. She shot a season-best 75 at the Red Wing Invitational at Mississippi National on May 12, finishing fourth in a tournament chock-full of the state’s best players.
Adjusting for nine-hole scores, which account for most of Heck’s tournament rounds, Feitl estimates that Heck’s overall scoring average is just above 75.
Overall, this season has had a much different feel for Heck, who is the lone returner from a Visitation team that finished sixth at state a year ago. Despite her youth, Heck is now being counted on as a leader.
“It’s definitely a new situation for us with that much [turnover],” Feitl said. “She’s really adjusted great, and helped the rest of the team come along.”
“It’s actually been great,” Heck said. “I love all the new players and their enthusiasm for the game. It’s been fun to help them a little bit and interact with them more.”
After a slow start, the team’s scores have started to turn around, Feitl said. Freshman Sarah Betts, the team’s No. 2 player, and senior Maddie Schueppert, at the No. 3 spot, have stepped into large roles. Feitl said she is hoping for the team to make another run at a Class 2A, Section 4 title on May 26.
For Heck, she’s feeling confident that, after a winter of making swing adjustments to account for her growth spurt, her game is rounding into form at the right time. She would like to see those results change a bit, too.
“The goal is always to win,” she said. “But I’m thinking more that I’d like to shoot better than three or four over [par] for the tournament, and just kind of see what happens.
“I just love being competitive and going out to try to beat everybody.”