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GIRLS GOLF: Gilmore gunning for glory in finale

BNL senior Bailee Gilmore will compete in the IHSAA state finals on Friday and Saturday at Prairie View Golf Club.

BNL senior Bailee Gilmore will compete in the IHSAA state finals on Friday and Saturday at Prairie View Golf Club.

BNL senior shooting

for All-State status

in IHSAA state finals

By Justin Sokeland

Bailee Gilmore hates to lose, just hates it, and that will take her far in life. That red-haired temper will flare, and the competitive drive will quickly surface, and she will push herself to succeed.

That determination has taken her a long way in golf, from a kid who first picked up a club in a serious manner in April of 2013 and struggled to break 100 much of her first season, to an elite state finals qualifier in her final high school campaign. So don’t be surprised if she returns from the IHSAA state championship with some sort of medal.

First round tee times

“I’m not going out there just to be there,” she said. And that’s the perfect mindset as the Bedford North Lawrence senior prepares for her final two rounds, on the biggest stage. She’s going to accomplish something.

Gilmore has already done that, joining an exclusive list of BNL players who have advanced to the finals. She will taken her place in program history on Friday morning, when she tees off at 8:48 a.m. at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. And she wants more.

Only two BNL players (Leslie Thompson and Kennedy Holtsclaw) have earned All-State status. Finishing in the top 10 in the state finals is an automatic inclusion on that list, and that’s Gilmore’s ultimate goal as she prepares to attack the course that will host the finals for the third time.

Gilmore was the sectional medalist and finished tied for third in the regional.

Gilmore was the sectional medalist and finished tied for third in the regional.

“For a high school golfer, it’s kind of the end thing you want to get to, it’s your goal to achieve every year,” Gilmore said. “I’m happy I finally did it. I’d like to place in the top 10. I’m going to be competitive.”

Why not? Caution, at this point, will not be rewarded. She’s worked too hard, hit too many golf balls over the last 4 1/2 years, walked too many miles, to become tentative now. That’s not her game, not her true identity. She’s a power player, and she goes after everything hard.

“I would think she would want to be aggressive and play as well as she can,” BNL coach Aaron Sanders said. “Ideally, you want to try to win any golf tournament you’re in.”

That doesn’t mean the left-hander will walk in swinging wildly, without thought or concern of the consequences. Golf requires as much brain power as it does muscle force, perhaps even more. Prairie View has a mixture of tight holes, looming disaster in the rough, hazards in devilish places, that can humble a hero in a heartbeat.

Gilmore has an advantage. She watched Holtsclaw weave her way around it in 2014 as she finished in a tie for seventh, and she has an open line of communication with her former teammate. She has a coach who has prepared a game plan. Gilmore plans to seek advice from both.

“It will help that I was there,” Sanders said. “That course was pretty new to me, so playing a practice round, walking it twice with (Holtsclaw), and picking the lines and yardages, it’s an important course for that. It’s not a course you can just go hit driver on every hole.

Bailee Gilmore played her first four holes in even par but finished with a 43.

Gilmore’s strength is length and power off the tee.

“Usually she loves the par-5s, but only two (of the four on the layout) of them are reachable. But on the longer par-4s, she can get away with hitting a hybrid off the tee and still have a wedge into it. So it will be a matter of figuring out where to place the ball.”

“I’ll probably ask Kennedy a few questions,” Gilmore said. “I’ve talked to her a little bit about it. Once I get up there and see a few things, I’ll probably ask certain things about the course and what to expect.

“I’ve played courses like it, so it’s nothing new. On courses I play in the summer, you have to be smarter on where you hit shots, so I think that will be more of my mindset.”

Gilmore doesn’t need much help. She was the sectional medalist at Otis Park, and she finished tied for third in the regional with a 1-over 73 at Country Oaks against a deep, talented field. If she can settle her nerves and get off to a solid start, if she can get her putter to cooperate on a consistent basis, she will be in her element.

“I’m trying not to let them (jitters) come too much,” Gilmore said.

The IHSAA finals will not include a cut following the first round. The entire field of 15 teams (BNL missed advancing as a team by three shots) and 25 individuals will return for Saturday’s final round.