Just 15 and a sophomore at Hopkinton High, Abby Jaye has already established herself as one of the top high school golfers in the state.
A Globe All-Scholastic her freshman year, she helped to lead Hopkinton to a 17-1 record and scored an 83 at the state match, good for a sixth-place finish statewide.
But beside her skill and intensity on the course, those who are around her regularly treasure yet another of her traits: her ever-cheerful disposition.
“At times I don’t know how she’s doing” on the course, said Hopkinton coach Dick Bliss, adding that no matter how a round went, Jaye’s always smiling. “She has a good way about her; her demeanor is great. She doesn’t show too much body language [on the course] . . . She’s always smiling and happy and just loves the game.”
But with the state tournament looming Monday at Heritage Country Club in Charlton, Jaye concedes that she’s struggling a bit to keep her emotions in check.
“Playing in the tournament,” she said, “after last year certainly applies some pressure and I’ve ben working really hard at it, but I’m excited.”
And after watching Jaye tear up the course her freshman year, Bliss had an idea. The school has had no shortage of top-notch golfers in its history, and he decided to reach out to one of them — 2006 graduate Kim Donovan who went on to play at Duke.
“I said to Kim: ‘I want you to come and meet this girl,’ ” said Bliss.
Donovan gladly obliged, inviting Jaye to play 18 holes with her. Soon, Donovan reported back to her former coach.
“Yeah, coach, this girl can do it,’’ Donovan told him. “She’s got it.”
Part of what makes her so unique, Bliss and Donovan say, is that her work ethic drives her to constantly progress. She never seems to stagnate. At each point, she finds something new to improve upon. When she spots a weakness, she works on it tirelessly until it becomes a strength.
Like most high school golfers looking to play at the next level, she plays year-round, competing in tournaments in the summer and training in an indoor facility in the winter.
Her nonstop efforts are not lost on her teammates — and therein lies a story.
On a squad of 30 players, she’s currently one of just two girls. As a freshman last year, she was the only girl.
But it didn’t take long for Jaye to establish herself as not just a viable part of the team, but as an essential one.
“She’s been a huge contributor to the team golf-wise, obviously, with her low scores and overall how we play as a team,’’ said junior tri-captain Ben Scire. “But then she’s also just got a great attitude on the golf course.”
Going from playing alone to playing with nearly 30 guys was certainly a culture change for Jaye, but it appears she has adapted well.
“I was really nervous to be with the boys my first year,” she said. “But then they took me under their wing, and I fit right in, and it’s just so much fun each year.”
Playing with the guys, she said, has motivated her to keep on getting better.
“It raises my game,’’ she said, “because there’s that level of competition that’s there with the boys. And it’s so much fun, but I’ve noticed I’ve been getting stronger these past couple of years I’ve been there, and hopefully I can continue that.”
Scire sees Jaye as a very unique golfer.
In a sport that is so heavily reliant on luck, bad days are a given. But when Jaye comes in after a tough round, her expression is the same as when she finishes with a personal best.
“A lot of people can get frustrated really easily with this sport,” said Scire. “And Abby — even when she does bad — she’s always got a smile on her face, she’s always very cheerful. And looking at it from an outside perspective, all the other kids on the team: When [they] see one of our better players coming in with a bad round, and she just shakes it off like it’s nothing and comes back the next day even better, it’s a great feeling for the rest of us.
“The vibe she gives on her off days,” he said, is something all her teammates look up to.
“She really shows some responsibility on the team,’’ he said, “and it’s obvious she’s a clear leader on the team even with her age. It’s great seeing her step up as a player all the time.”
Logan Mullen can be reached at email@example.com.