Chandler Gallagher took her first trip to a golf course during the final month of her eighth-grade school year. At the urging of her father, Gallagher, now a junior at Kearney High School, placed an assortment of clubs into a golf bag and stumbled her way around the course.
A little more than two years later, she has moved to the head of the class.
Gallagher won her seventh tournament of the year Monday, besting a 51-player field in the Class 2, District 8 golf tournament at Paradise Pointe in Smithville. Her 1-over par 73 was 14 strokes better than second-place finisher Mary Katherine Duffin of Liberty North.
Park Hill won the team district title, with Liberty finishing second and Kearney taking third.
“I wasn’t really worried about what anyone else shot — just trying to post a low number,” Gallagher said. “At the same time, it was good to know that I was that far ahead of the competition. You always say a round could’ve been better, but I played really well.”
That’s becoming somewhat of a trend.
Kearney has played in eight tournaments this season. Gallagher has won seven of them. She finished second in the other.
A two-sport athlete in middle school, Gallagher added golf to her competitive resume after her father saw her swing a golf club in the back yard.
It took a little longer for Gallagher to recognize her own talent.
“When I first started out, I’d have people ask me, ‘How did you hit that so far?’ ” said Gallagher, who also plays volleyball and basketball. “I didn’t realize it was anything special until I played with other girls my age, and I had lot more distance on (my shot). That got me hooked.”
Gallagher is one of 25 golfers from the district to qualify for Monday’s sectional tournament at Staley Farms Golf Club.
From each Class 2 and Class 1 district, the top two teams qualified their full squads for the sectional tournament, with the best 15 golfers from nonqualifying teams moving on, as well.
The top two teams from the sectional tournament will reach the state tournament, along with the best 12 golfers from the nonqualifying teams.
“Sometimes I forget that I’ve only been doing this for two years. I get ahead of myself and set high goals,” Gallagher said. “But I’d like to put myself in contention to win (sectionals) and state.”
Lee’s Summit West wins Class 2, District 6
Lee’s Summit West picked a good time for its best outing of the season. The Titans won the Class 2, District 6 team title at Carthage Golf Club by posting a season-low score of 361.
“We didn’t know a thing about that course, so we had no idea what to expect,” LS West coach Richard Myers said. “We were winging it, and we ended up playing our best golf of the year.”
As did top golfer Mason Fender. With a career-best 10-over par, Fender finished second to Joplin’s Samantha Stout.
Also in Class 2, St. Teresa’s Academy golfer Emily Anne McCann won the District 7 event.
Smithville takes Class 1, District 7
With four golfers among the top nine places, Smithville won the Class 1, District 7 tournament at Shirkey Golf Club in Richmond.
Paige Imhoff took first for Smithville, with Leah Shipley, Taryn Mosby and Rachel Kay Crouse also putting together top-10 finishes.
“We’ve played well all season, so I thought our girls had a good chance,” Smithville coach Trevor Mosby said. “We have a pretty young squad, so to come out and do what they’ve done is amazing.”