Bowling Green High School grad Caroline Powers has started every event her freshman year at Michigan State. She is ranked just shy of the top 100 nationally.
Over the past few years there were times - many, many times - when most kids were sleeping in or goofing around or just plain relaxing. A lot of those times, a solitary figure was methodically hitting balls on the driving range, or striking approach shots on one of the holes at BGSU's Forrest Creason Golf Course.
Caroline Powers put in the time to make herself one of the best golfers in the area, then one of the best in the state, and then the region. She is now working on the next frontier - making herself one of the best in the Big Ten.
The freshman at Michigan State, who last summer won the prestigious Trusted Choice Big "I" national tournament in Ardmore, Okla., by six shots, was a three-time all-state choice while playing at Bowling Green High School.
Powers made the Bobcat boys golf team as a freshman, and competed against the boys during the season for all four years of high school.
When the season reached the tournament level, she took part in the girls' individual competition, finishing fifth in the state as a senior. Powers also played in a number of tournaments around the country, gaining valuable experience while performing under pressure.
At Michigan State, however, she had to adjust to competing at a very high level, with the added burden of knowing her team was depending on her.
"That was probably the biggest adjustment, just having the rest of the team there and knowing my score was really affecting how they did," Powers said.
"In high school, in all of the bigger tournaments I was on my own, and had my own score, so if I made a mistake, it only affected me."
Powers hasn't made many mistakes for the Spartans. She has started every event this year, is ranked just out of the top 100 nationally, and recently finished 16th in the Big Ten tournament. Powers said the caliber of players she has encountered on the college level leaves no margin for anything less than her best.
"Every field is full of good players, and there's only a few strokes difference between being very good, and being just average," Powers said.
"I haven't been scoring like I think I can, but I keep working at it and I hope to get my act together."
That pursuit of near perfection comes as no surprise to Chris Dill, who was Powers' coach at Bowling Green High School.
"Caroline has a great ability to focus on the task at hand. When it is time for golf, she is 100 percent into golf and she gets a lot done in a short time," Dill said.
"When it is time to study, she is very efficient. And when it is time to have fun, she has a great sense of humor and really enjoys life. In addition to being very talented, she succeeds because of her ability to concentrate."
Powers, who was all-state three times for the Bobcats and was the Toledo Junior Golf player of the year in 2006, said she still makes practice a high priority, once her school work is completed. She does extremely well in that aspect of college, as well, and was recently the recipient of Michigan State's Office of the Provost Award, which is issued to a male and female MSU freshman who has excelled in academics, community outreach, leadership, and athletics.
"I definitely put in the time practicing, because with golf, there is always more that you can do," Powers said.
"The more shots you hit, the more comfortable you feel when you are out on the course. You can never practice too much."
Next up for Powers and the Spartans, who were second in the recent Big Ten event, is the NCAA Central Regional, which begins tomorrow at Otter Creek Golf Course in Columbus, Ind.
She has averaged 75.84 strokes through 10 events this spring, with a low round of 69.
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