Bishop Dwenger’s Sarah Frazier is the 2017 News-Sentinel high school Girls Golfer of the Year
Sometimes in life, all you need is a little pep talk from dad.
If you happen to be playing for a state golf title, it may help that dad is also coach and instructor. That pep talk, in the case of Bishop Dwenger senior Sarah Frazier, helped propel her to a day 2 low score (73) in this year’s state finals and solidify her spot as the 2017 News-Sentinel Girls Golfer of the Year.
“I said, let’s just draw a line between yesterday and today,” Tim Frazier says of that pep talk, coming after an opening-day 84 put Sarah largely out of contention. “You have the same field of girls, you have the same golf course. But you have a new golf tournament today and today is all that matters. And I want you to win the golf tournament.”
Sarah asked for clarification. “You want me to win the golf tournament? You want me to have the low round of the day?” she asked her dad.
“I said that is exactly what I want,” Tim says of his response that morning of day two as they walked from the range to the putting green before the round started. “And she said ‘I like that, I think I can do that.’ And it kind of got her motivated and refocused.”
The IHSAA State Finals on September 29 and 30 was the 45th annual hosted by Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, one of the toughest courses in the state for high school play.
“I was too worried about what I was going to shoot and not just playing golf,” Sarah says of her first day. “I knew day two, it was my last round of senior year and I just wanted to put a good number out there.”
On day 2, Frazier found her rhythm in outhitting the entire field, including eventual winner Kayla Benge of Plainfield. Frazier’s one-over 73 was the benchmark for the day with Benge and Lake Central’s Alexis Miestowski both shooting 74 as the long days took effect on most performances. But not Frazier’s.
Had Frazier shot as well on day one as she did on day two, she would have finished second overall.
Her 15th place finish at her final state competition was a significant jump from her 24th place finish in 2016.
“I’m pretty sure I gained about 10 to 20 yards on my drive this year, so that made it easier to score,” Sarah says of the gains between the two years. “A different mental approach too. Last year, I played good the first day and freaked out because I knew I could win and blew up the second day. So I kind of went in [this year] to just take it one shot at a time.”
The road to raise her finish and hopefully compete for a state title started far earlier than high school golf season. Frazier competes in around one tournament a month, even over the winter, according to her father. This past summer, she caught a lot of the local golf scene’s eye with a second-place finish at Coyote Creek Golf Club’s Women’s City Golf Tournament in July.
“That’s my favorite tournament every year,” Sarah will tell you with a wide grin. “It was really cool to see all of the young high school players doing really well.”
Frazier shot a first round two-under 70 to share the lead at the major city event, eventually placing second, just two strokes back of Saint Francis’ Marissa Singer. The event was a major milestone for Frazier, as well as many other young players like eighth grader Madison Dabagia, who finished third.
“The youth movement is happening because the Indiana section PGA puts together a tremendous state tournament program to get the girls playing at a level higher at a younger age,” Tim says. “Then they get to move on to the national stuff at a pretty young age and when you compete at that level at a golf week tour event or an (American Junior Golf Tournament) tour event, teeing it up in the women’s city championship is less intimidating.”
Frazier’s entire postseason run led to her final day at state. She won the Angola Sectional on September 16 with a four stroke edge over DeKalb’s Lexy Stucky, also leading the Saints to a team title, which they won by 14 strokes. In regional play, a single stroke kept her in second behind Homestead’s Emma Schroeder, whom she then beat in the state meet.
“I felt pretty good about my game [after regionals],” Sarah says. “I was encouraged about where I could finish at state.”
It is somewhat humorous that Frazier has become the golfer that she is. While she now regularly competes with her dad (he says he thinks she will finally beat him for the first time during their annual Spring Break game in 2018), it wasn’t always the case. Following in the footsteps of her dad, now in his 19th year as a golf pro for Sycamore Hills, or her mom Susie, a former Bishop Dwenger golfer, didn’t seem like it would happen so easily.
“I did clinics and stuff, but I didn’t really like golf until freshman year,” Sarah says. “I’ve always liked the individual type of stuff in sports. In softball, I always liked being the pitcher so there was just something about golf that I liked.”
“We were driving to Spring Break her eighth grade year and she said ‘I think I want to try and play golf at Bishop Dwenger next year.’ Susie and I were kind of taken aback by it; she had never even played 18 straight holes.” Tim notes.
“That summer she worked at it really hard and when she became a freshman, she had some ups and downs until sectionals and had a 78 and in my mind, it was a moment of wow. She likes to compete and she likes the moment and this is something that she could be really good at.”
A future in golf may not be something that Frazier, or her parents would have once projected for her. But now, after a variety of visits and opportunities, she will set her sights on teeing off for the University of Dayton next fall after picking the school, in large part, due to the focus on academics at the forefront of a future as a true student-athlete.
“I loved everything about Dayton and I was up against 18 girls for that spot and it was offered to me right before a tournament in Ohio,” Sarah says. “Everything about the school seemed like a perfect fit, overall it was like a dream school.”
Mom and dad don’t seem to mind that Dayton is also close to home. That is good for Sarah too. You never know when she may need a good pep talk before teeing off.
For more on prep sports, follow Dan Vance on Twitter at danvance.