Optimistic chatter accompanied Gianna Furrie’s arrival onto the St. Charles North girls golf scene this fall.
Once she grew cozy enough as an up-and-coming freshman, the talk followed Furrie around the course – both from the gallery and her own group.
Sure, the Kane County Chronicle Girls Golfer of the Year boasts a sound pedigree and brought an accomplished history of junior golf achievements to the North Stars. But she’s also a girl in her early teens. You don’t just walk out and average 40 for nine holes in your debut season without some friendly help.
“The way I play, I need to be happy when I play, because when I get mad, I start doing really bad,” Furrie said. “When I got more comfortable with my teammates, I was able to talk to them throughout the round. It helped me stay calm throughout the round and was very good for my game.”
North coach Chris Patrick lauded Furrie’s consistency at every turn, the last of which came with the program’s first Class AA state tournament team berth since 2005. No, not even Furrie’s standout older sister, Ariana – now a freshman women’s golfer at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. – led a North Stars team downstate.
Gianna Furrie missed most of her big sister’s individual state appearances while playing for the Tri-Cities Soccer Association Elite program. Still, patrolling the midfield helped maintain a competitive edge that’s just as much a part of her profile as her accurate driver and steady putter.
“She has a lot of self-confidence and she trusts her game and her ability,” Patrick said. “It’s very apparent.”
Furrie tied classmate and longtime friend Kate Lillie for North’s top score with a 78 at the Class AA Prairie Ridge Regional at Prairie Isle Golf Course in Crystal Lake.
Five days later, she paced North’s third-place sectional team finish with a 76 at the Rockford Guilford Sectional at Ingersoll Golf Course.
Given the structure of the state series, Furrie played alongside three golfers from other schools instead of the midweek set-up of one teammate and two golfers from the opposing school. Lillie was a frequent playing partner during the Upstate Eight Conference season – North won the league and tournament title with a program-record 314 – and therefore provided a soothing presence for Furrie.
“It’s a really cool, new experience after playing in all the little junior things together,” Lillie said.
Furrie attended her sister’s matches and postseason banquets before entering high school. That allowed her to build at least a working rapport with such North returners as Jessica Grill, also a regular season partner, and Sam Scroggin.
Furrie said she thinks she would have golfed either way, but her sister “definitely helped.” The girls’ father, Shawn, is also active in the sport and provided the influence that started it all.
Wasting little time after the state tournament, Furrie takes weekly lessons and is set to begin a weight-training program this winter. She finished third on the team with a two-day 165 at Forsyth’s Hickory Point Golf Club, 21 shots over par. Windy, chilly weather made scoring conditions less than optimal as North finished ninth among 12 teams, but Furrie learned long ago not to use such things as a crutch.
“I didn’t play as good as I was hoping to and I had a tough time adapting to the conditions and the greens and stuff like that,” she said. “But, I mean, not many people can say they made state as a freshman, and I’m pretty happy about that.”
It’s an encouraging talking point, to be sure. Going forward, Furrie hopes to have many more.