Abby Jaye was a captain of Hopkinton’s Division 2 state champion coed golf team last fall. This spring, she’s on her own.
Spring is the season for girls’ high school golf, but Hopkinton doesn’t have a girls’ team. Jaye’s averages qualified her to prepare for the girls’ golf state tournament by herself, with no team or head coach.
“It’s really different going from being on a team in fall to being alone in spring. I like being on a team because you have people to play with and you get to work together with those same people every day,” said Jaye, a senior. “When you play individually, it’s a different mindset because it’s just you and every shot matters a little more.”
She will begin the tournament in the South sectional on May 29 at the Ridder Farm Golf Course in East Bridgewater.
Jaye played for four seasons on the fall team, including 2017, when Hopkinton also won a state championship.
Jaye’s spring season mainly consists of practices at Hopkinton Country Club, sometimes alone and sometimes alongside her father and sister. She has qualified for the spring girls’ tournament for three consecutive years, finishing sixth as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore, and 12th as a junior.
“My goal is always to score lower than I have in the past, but the competition has definitely gotten tougher so we’ll see how it goes,” Jaye said. “All I can do is practice harder, and now that Hopkinton Country Club’s open, I’ll be there mostly every day working at the range and on the course.”
Training as an individual isn’t necessarily new for Jaye — before high school, it was all she did.
“She came out freshman year and opened up a lot of eyes,” said Coach Dick Bliss, who will enter his 40th season as Hopkinton’s golf coach in the fall. “She was never really intimidated because she felt she could play and contribute right away, and she was right.”
Bliss said that in four decades of coaching golf at Hopkinton, he’s only had about 20 girls come through the program.
For Jaye, who since the age of 9 had competed in tournaments as an individual, joining a team made up mostly of boys posed a bit of a challenge.
“It was definitely a jump because I never had a situation like that before at all. It really taught me how to be a team player and support everyone else,” said Jaye. “When I didn’t have my best day it didn’t matter, because it matters how everyone else did and how we did as a team. The boys that were upperclassmen my first few years really taught me how to be a leader.”
For her senior fall season, Jaye was elected captain by her peers.
“It was really no surprise because of how well respected she is,” Bliss said. “She’s really earned it, too, with the way she handles herself, the way she plays and helps other students.”
Last fall, Jaye told Bliss ahead of the state tournament that she would volunteer to sit out so that some of her teammates with similar scores could have a chance to compete at that level.
“It was senior year and I get to play in the spring because the girls have their own state tournament,” Jaye said. “I thought they should get the chance to compete.”
Jaye’s selflessness did not go unnoticed in the eyes of her teammates or her coach.
“The biggest sacrifice was that, since she played on the boys’ team and only six kids get sent to states, she said ‘Don’t play me — the seventh and eighth golfers should go,’” Bliss said. “She made the decision to take herself out and we qualified and won states. She was with our team all the way through and that was just absolutely selfless of her to do for her team.”
Jaye, who committed to playing golf at Stonehill College next year, works with a private swing coach, Lee Khang, to improve her game. Khang, whose daughter Megan is an LPGA golfer, is based in Rockland and also coaches top golfers Emily Nash of Lunenburg and Gabrielle Shieh of Concord-Carlisle.
“Because she’s very athletic and she has good hand-eye coordination, I think with a little more work she has a lot of potential,” Khang said of Jaye. “She’ll be really good at Stonehill, and within the first year or two, I wouldn’t doubt if she’s their number one or number two.”
Thomas Herron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.