Munster’s Rachel Jones just never gets rattled out on the course, and it’s a quality she works on off the links.
“I just don’t really get mad about things,” said Jones, a junior standout. “There’s no use in it. I just focus on the next shot.”
She started out an early season meet against Kankakee Valley and Hobart at Sandy Pines with a bogey, double-bogey, but she rebounded nicely with two straight pars. She finished the nine holes with a birdie for a 42 to help the Mustangs get the conference wins.
“This is her third year on the varsity, and she’s gotten better every year,” Munster coach Bill Smitka said. “She’s getting strong and more mentally tough. She has a much better approach. She’s matured, and she doesn’t get flustered.”
Jones takes taekwondo lessons twice a week when she’s not competing during the high school season. She said it’s helped with her concentration, balance and strength.
“It teaches you respect which carries over on to the golf course,” she said.
Jones is averaging 43.5 for nine holes and helped the Mustangs win their first five dual meets. She’s built on her play as the No. 1 golfer last year.
“She was our most consistent player,” Smitka said. “We had some other players coming back, but I kind of penciled her in as the No. 1 and she’s delivered so far.”
Like many of her high school counterparts she has a goal to qualify for state, but she stresses it’s just one part of being a student-athlete.
Jones maintains a 3.74 GPA and is enrolled in the challenging "We the People" class, which entails extra school work and debates.
“It’s also like an extracurricular,” Jones said. “We go to competitions outside of school.”
In addition to playing in summer tournaments to sharpen her game, Jones volunteered at The First Tee program at Creekside Golf Course in Valparaiso. The First Tee is a junior golf program for elementary students that offers educational programs, builds character and promotes healthy choices through the game of golf, according to its website.
“I helped out with the Special Olympics one day,” Jones said. “I’ve been in it a few years. I try to get out there weekly.”
For the rest of this season she just wants to help the Mustangs reach their team goals, including winning the NCC meet.
“We’ve definitely improved since last year,” she said. “The girls have stepped up and keep practicing. Instead of being in the 50s, we all scored in the 40s which is good for us.”