All-Empire girls golf player of the year: Kara Curry

2014-15 All-Empire girls golfer of the year Kara Curry of Santa Rosa High School. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

2014-15 All-Empire girls golfer of the year Kara Curry of Santa Rosa High School. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

When various Redwood Empire high school girls’ golf coaches were recently asked to describe the top attribute that makes Kara Curry the golfer she is, the same word kept coming up — consistency.

It may not be a flashy attribute, but consistency in golf is an invaluable trait. And Curry, a senior from Santa Rosa High, had such a solid year that she was a unanimous pick among the polled NBL and SCL girls golf coaches to be The Press Democrat’s pick for Redwood Empire Girls Golf Player of the Year.

Curry had an average of 6.5 strokes over par for nine holes during the regular NBL season while playing mostly at the difficult Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club course. By comparison, the second-lowest average in the NBL was senior Meagan McConnell with a 7.3 strokes-over-par average. No other NBL golfer was below a 10.7 strokes-over-par average during season.

Although Santa Rosa finished fifth in the NBL with a 6-8 record, the team was buoyed by Curry’s leadership as she tutored the younger players on the largely inexperienced Panthers team, according to Santa Rosa coach Levi Jones.

“Kara was the best thing to happen to our team. She would mentor our younger players, she thrived on that,” Jones said. “She had a phenomenal year. There is no question Curry is the best golfer in our area.”

A key part of her game, according to Curry, is powering long drives, sometimes as long as 280 yards. She said she also has gotten better on her short game during the past few years.

“My strengths are my drives and chips,” said Curry, who’s 5-foot-8. “My weaknesses are my mid-range shots around 150 yards.”

“Kara can go from the tee box to the green without making many mistakes,” Jones said. “She has really good course management.”

Curry starting golfing at age 10 after her dad took her to Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club for the first time, and she said her dad thought she was a natural.

“I quit playing other sports mostly in middle school,” Curry said. “Golf has been my life for about two years.”

Curry played on Santa Rosa’s team her freshman and sophomore years and developed her game under Jones’ coaching.

“Levi helped me so much my sophomore year. He is the best high school coach I could ever ask for,” Curry said. “From my freshman year to my sophomore year, my putting went from a one on a scale of one to 10 to a seven.”

Curry didn’t play for the Panthers her junior year, instead playing in a variety of golf tournaments before coming back to play for the school team her senior year.

Curry won the individual NBL tournament and got through the NCS Division I playoffs qualifier, but her postseason journey came up one stop short of the state tournament, as she didn’t advance out of the NCS tournament at Tilden Park in Berkeley. Curry finished 9 over par — a good recovery after starting out with double bogeys on her first four holes.

“I didn’t get a good line on the course,” Curry said. “I was a little nervous that day and I usually don’t get nervous.”

Curry said she would like to play golf in college and will play for SRJC next year.

“I plan on going to SRJC for a year or two and playing with them and going on a few mini-tours and getting some sponsors and then a personal coach,” Curry said. “I would love to do something with golf as a career. Teaching golf would be ideal.”

All the coaches polled thought Curry could play in college at least at the Division II level.

“Curry is solid all-around. She was the best golfer we played by a bunch. My girls were very impressed by her,” Ukiah coach Chris Philbrick said. “She has a heck of a stick. She can definitely play at the next level.”

Reflecting on her season, Curry said she took time to enjoy herself.

“I had so much fun this season with all the girls,” Curry said. “I laughed a lot. Golf isn’t all about being serious.”