South Stokes Nicole Rogers leaves big shoes to fill in the Lady Sauras golf program. As a four year Western Piedmont All-Conference recipient she’s qualified to play at the 1-A/2-A Women’s Golf Championships since her freshman season.
At this year’s state championship the senior tied for 30th out of 78 golfers from around the state at Longleaf Golf and Country Club.
“There’s so many great golfers that it’s always an honor to play at that level. This year was especially memorable because this was the last tournament of my high school golf career. They called my name out on the second day as I stepped up to the tee and I thought, ‘This is the last time I will do this’” Rogers said. “The state tournament is also a different caliber of golf. We play in Pinehurst on much harder, and much longer courses than we’ve played all year. It’s always a challenge, and I like a challenge.”
Rogers played alongside local golfers she’s competed with throughout the season, Haley Hagwood of Mount Airy (finished 27th) and Autumn Senter of Surry Central (tied for 19th).
“Golf is a weird sport. You grow close to your opponents because you’re with them and getting to know them through the rounds every week. You grow close to so many people and then you’re at practice one day and you think that next year at this time you’ll be doing something completely different a long ways away,” she said.
Rogers attributes much of her success to coach Kent Mendenhall.
“I say it all the time, but he’s the best coach in the world. Coach Mendenhall has been a coach, a mentor, and a therapist for the past four years I’ve spent with him,” she said. “He’s taught me how to get out of trouble when I’ve hit it in the woods. More than just the shots and the swing, golf is a mental game so he’s taught me how to be mentally strong.”
Another valuable lesson she learned from her coach is how to fail when you’ve given all you have.
“I’ll never forget after a tournament this year when I hadn’t played as well as I should have; I was upset about it. Coach Mendenhall said its okay. You tried your best today and it didn’t work out. And that’s okay.”
Reflecting back on her freshman season Rogers said she had a lot to learn.
“If I hit it in the water or into a sand trap, it was almost always an automatic triple bogey. Now, I’ve learned how to get myself out of trouble and come out with a bogey or even a par after being in a hazard. I can make a big number on one hole and birdie the next. I used to step up to the tee and pray it went well. Now I step up to the tee and I tell myself that I know how to hit a golf ball and this is going right where I want it.”
Along with success on the golf course, the teen has been successful in the classroom. She plans to major in pre-med and genetics and has aspirations of going to medical school. Although she won’t have time to play golf at the collegiate level, Rogers knows the sport will always have an instrumental role in her life.
“You can always play so whether it’s on an intramural team or with my family on the weekends, I plan to play golf for the rest of my life,” she said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.