It was only eight years ago that Cara Stuckey graduated from Terre Haute South High School after outstanding careers in golf and basketball.
She is still the all-time scoring leader for the Braves’ basketball team.
But the former Indiana University golf standout has already racked up seven Terre Haute women’s city golf championships since her prep days.
Stuckey tees off at the course she grew up on, Rea Park, this morning at 7:30, as 24 women will try to stop her from claiming her eighth title, which would put her into a tie for third all-time in the 68th year of the tournament. If Stuckey continues to live in Terre Haute, who knows how many titles she could rack up?
Today’s round serves as qualifying for a three-day match-play tournament that starts Saturday and concludes Monday.
Stuckey has spent a lot of time on the golf course in her life, but lately it’s been mostly spent trying to get more girls to share her love of the game.
Still, Stuckey expects her game to be up to par.
“I haven’t competed as much as I used to,” said Stuckey. “I’ll get some practice in this week and hopefully I’ll be ready by [today].”
Stuckey put on a camp for more than 30 girls at Rea Park in June.
“I love working with the younger ones,” she said. “They’re enthusiastic and just love being out there. The earlier you start, the better chance you have of keeping them involved as they get older.”
Maybe one day one of those girls can challenge her for the city title.
This year, Stuckey will be challenged by two of her pupils — sophomore Sloane Engle and junior Katelyn Gosnell.
“I encourage them to play in any tournament they can because competing is going to improve their game,” Stuckey said.
Whitney Crowley of Terre Haute North will also be playing.
Even with the three high school players, the number of registrants is down from 31 players last year when Stuckey topped Gennifer Marrs, a current IU player heading into her senior year. Marrs did not enter this year.
Stuckey has never lost in the women’s city tournament. Jennifer Myers won it in 2003 when Stuckey took time off from golf.
Myers will tee off with Stuckey and former South player Diana Price in the first group today.
One former Terre Haute golfer who wishes the tournament had more participants is Edie Godleski, now retired and living in Florida. Godleski never had a chance to compete against Stuckey, but she followed her career at IU.
“Nobody’s going to touch her. She just has a great deal of talent,” Godleski said.
Godleski said she doubts that Stuckey’s dominance has much to do with dwindling participation in the tournament.
“A lot of people said that before about Nancy [Groth] and before that about Carrie Werneke and then [Mary Alice] Gormong before her,” said Godleski, recalling days when participation soared.
“Any time that it was at Rea Park there would be anywhere from 60 to 80 women. It just varied,” Godleski said, “and at Hulman Links probably around 55 because that’s a much more challenging course.”
Myers was unable to participate in the last few tournaments due to family commitments but is happy to be back in the field. Myers couldn’t pinpoint an exact reason for women not wanting to compete, but time constraints probably have something to do with it.
“In general, playing with my league, there are fewer and fewer young women playing,” Myers said. “Pepole in their 20s, 30s and 40s are either working when they get out of school and then raising children and maybe doing both.
“If they are playing golf, they’re only doing it socially. I’ve got a lot of friends who play tennis. There’s a whole lot of women playing tennis. Tennis doesn’t take as long.”
Becoming a strong golfer takes a lot of time and commitment, Godleski said.
“If you’re going to be good at golf, you have to spend a lot of time,” Godleski said. “[Stuckey] never went to bed until she made 25 free throws in a row. She did the same in golf. She would practice short wedge shots because she had a lot of room in her yard. Unless someone wants to put their mind to it and practice. It’s a game that you have to work at. Do girls want to do it? I don’t know.”
It’s too bad Stuckey hasn’t got involved in more tournament play to test her skills. It would be interesting to see how she fares.
Stuckey doesn’t think about passing the few players in front of her on the all-time win list. However, she does plan on winning.
“Any tournament I enter, I want to win,” she said. “I take it one year at a time and expect to win each one.”
Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4356.