Parents’ support helps Maumelle golfers earn honors

Donna Lampkin Stephens/Contributing Writer Published August 13, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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Matt Johnson/Contributing Photographer

From left, Josie Roberson, Taylor Loeb and Alexis Montgomery are three of four golfers from Maumelle who had stellar seasons in 2017. Not pictured is Allie Weiner.

Maumelle golfers have found significant success this summer on the state’s junior girls and women’s circuits.

Josie Roberson, Alexis Montgomery and Allie Weiner finished among the top 10 in the Arkansas State Golf Association’s Junior Girls Player of the Year race. Taylor Loeb won the

Arkansas Women’s Golf Association Stroke Play Championship and finished runner-up in the AWGA Match Play Championship.

“They’re working hard on their game, and it’s good to see them out there practicing and playing,” said Cary Maddox, pro at the Maumelle Country Club. “With some of them being friends and having somebody to play with, they’re competing against each other and making each other better.”

Loeb and Montgomery play out of the Maumelle Country Club, and the Country Club of Arkansas is the home course for Roberson and Weiner.

Tim Jenkins, pro at the CountryClub of Arkansas, said another major factor in the players’ success was parental support.

“These girls have unbelievable participation and support by good parents,” he said. “The parents have an emotional bond to the kids and the kids’ performance. It’s rare that one of those girls would come out to the range and not be accompanied by her father.

“It’s almost like they have someone looking over their shoulder. While they did it on their own, they didn’t do it all on their own.”

Roberson, 16, a junior at Central Arkansas Christian, finished runner-up to Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City in the Junior Girls Player of the Year race, 1,045 points to 800. Montgomery finished sixth with 384 points; Weiner was 10th with 230. Last year, Roberson had held off Moon, 850-836.66.

Moon’s win in the final event of the year, the ASGA Junior Girls Match Play Championship, secured the award.

“I had a good start in the summer, but I didn’t win as many in the middle (of the season), and Elizabeth was winning some,” Roberson said. “We were back and forth, first and second, and it all came down to the Match Play.”

Roberson, who earned medalist honors in the Junior Match after firing even-par 72, won one match before falling in the quarterfinals to Sherwood’s Hannah Bakalekos, a recent North Little Rock High School graduate.

“I did have a tough draw,” Roberson said. “Hannah’s a tough competitor, and you have to be on your game. Match play is not really my thing; I’m more of a stroke-play person. But I knew I had to play hard.”

In 15 tournaments this season, Roberson won four — the Greater Little Rock Junior Championship, the Monk Wade Junior Classic, the Chuck Morton Memorial and the Tom Millikin Memorial. She finished runner-up in the Greers Ferry Junior; tied for second in the Southern Bancorp/Alliance Insurance Junior; finished third in the Arkansas Junior Amateur and Bubba Smart Memorial and tied for third in the Burns Park Junior; took fourth in the Randy Beaver Memorial; finished fifth in the Shadow

Valley Junior, the Northwest Arkansas Junior and the Trusted Choice Big “I” qualifying; tied for fifth in the ASGA Junior Match Play; and was sixth in the Bruce Jenkins Memorial.

“I knew what I needed to do in the Match Play, and I got knocked out pretty early, but that’s all right,” Roberson said. “I still have more years to do something else.

“[Player of the Year] was last year’s goal, so it wasn’t as big this year. This year I was more focused on playing well, and I feel like I did.”

Montgomery, a senior at Maumelle High School, played 11 tournaments, earning a pair of seconds in the Fianna Hills Junior Championship and the Burns Park Junior; third in the Greers Ferry Junior; fourth in the Greater Little Rock Junior; fifth in the Bubba Smart Memorial; a tie for fifth in the Randy Beaver Memorial and the Junior Match Play; seventh in the Shadow Valley Junior and Trusted Choice Big “I” qualifying; and ninth in the Bruce Jenkins Memorial and a tie for ninth in the Monk Wade Junior Classic.

She and Roberson are among the six girls on Arkansas’

12-person Southern Junior Cup team, which competed against Mississippi, Missouri and Alabama at the Country Club of Oxford in Mississippi on Aug. 1-3.

“I would say it’s been a pretty eventful summer,” Montgomery said.

She will lead Maumelle’s Lady Hornets this fall as they attempt to improve on last year’s Class 5A state runner-up finish.

Weiner, a recent CAC graduate heading to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, played six tournaments, placing fourth in the Greers Ferry Junior, fifth in the Bruce Jenkins, sixth in the Arkansas Junior Amateur, tied for ninth in the

Junior Match and tied for 10th in the Southern Bancorp/Alliance Insurance Junior.

Maumelle’s Lauren Loeb tied for 25th with 44 points, finishing in a tie for fifth in the Monk Wade, eighth in the Bruce Jenkins and 10th in the Greater Little Rock in her only three tournaments.

Lauren Loeb’s older sister Taylor, 19, Freshman of the Year for the Great American Conference in her first year playing for Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, finished fourth in the ASGA Women’s Amateur at the Hot Springs Country Club, won the consolation flight in the Women’s Southern Golf Association Amateur at the Grenada

Golf Course in Hot Springs Village, and won the AWGA Stroke Play Championship and finished runner-up for the second straight year in the AWGA Match Play Championship, both at the Country Club of Arkansas.

Loeb won the stroke play by 10 strokes over her old pal Bakalekos; Bakalekos returned the favor by knocking off her friend in the match-play final, 3 and 1.

“I was super-excited when I won stroke, and I wanted to win the match play part,” Loeb said. “It’s frustrating, but I’m really glad Hannah was the one who won.”

Jenkins reiterated the importance of family support in the Maumelle girls’ success.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “When the girl was there, the dad was right beside her. You rarely saw one without the other.”

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