Liz LaVerghetta is the first to admit that she takes golf a little too seriously.
As the only girl on a course, surrounded by boys during the majority of her youth, it’s understandable. The boys, she says, have no problem showing their emotion - mainly frustration.
Her counter-strategy: keep her emotion inside; even when a bad shot aggravates her, she does not show it.
Now a senior at Norton High School, her patience has paid off.
A four-year varsity player on the boys’ golf team, LaVerghetta has been designated as a First Tee Scholar, Class of 2012, for the state of Massachusetts. She has received a small scholarship and has the opportunity to apply for additional scholarships offered through participating colleges.
The program recognizes participants for exceptional achievement in academics, leadership, character development, and community development.
“When I first met Liz, she was a shy kid,’’ said Joe McCabe, the executive director of the First Tee of Massachusetts.
“But she listens, takes everything in and is an incredibly fast learner. She matured as a golfer and a person and we’re really proud of her.’’
LaVerghetta started playing the game at age 9, with her father, Paul. It started as solid bonding time between father and daughter. Before long, Liz had really improved.
And after a few years, “she actually started to beat me,’’ her father said.
The two hardly keep score any more, and Paul goes straight to the “she plays from the women’s tees’’ excuse, jokingly of course, but Liz admits she has the most fun playing with her dad, win or lose.
He isn’t critical of her game. He doesn’t get mad at her for hitting bad shots and he doesn’t try to fix every imperfection in her game.
Besides, she already knows what she needs to work on.
“I take everything way too seriously - it’s one of my character flaws,’’ said Liz, who has applied to 18 colleges and lists Dartmouth as her No. 1 choice.
“I get way too down on myself sometimes but I’m working on it. That’s why I like golfing with my dad. He’s really encouraging. It’s not a bad benefit.’’
LaVerghetta estimates that she ran into three or four girls on the course during the fall season with the Norton boys’ team. It was not her best season on the links (an average in the mid-40s over nine holes), but she enjoyed the experience.
Paul LaVerghetta has no worries about his daughter competing against boys five or six times per week.
“She knew all of those kids from the First Tee program anyway and they’re all friends,’’ he said. “We just want her to have fun and she really enjoys golf.’’
Her biggest achievement, however, came for charitable work off the course.
This past fall, LaVerghetta teamed up with another First Tee participant, Cora Bernier of Taunton, to host a charity tournament at MGA Links in Mamantapett benefiting the Norton-based Cupboard of Kindness Food Pantry.
The pair went door-to-door asking businesses for donations.
The two raised $3,000, as well as $1,000 worth of donated can goods.
“I’m really proud of that tournament,’’ said LaVerghetta, who would like to major in biology and English in college. “The Norton community has given us so much and we really wanted to give something back.’’
“For her to do that was really special,’’ said McCabe, who has known LaVerghetta since she was a youngster. “She put a lot of time and effort into that and it paid off.’’
And while LaVerghetta’s own golf career at Norton High may now be over, once the weather turns you’ll know where to find her.
On the course with her dad.