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Gaffney eager to build on core skills

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 11:22 p.m. CDT
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St. Charles East sophomore Kacie Gaffney advanced from the first stages of the Drive, Chip & Putt competiton, adding to a busy itinerary of summer tournaments.

Kacie Gaffney offered a disclaimer when discussing her summer golf itinerary.

After listing her tournament schedule, the St. Charles East sophomore mentioned her recent advancement in the statewide Drive, Chip & Putt competition. She added she wasn’t sure if that last part should count.

Why not? Considering the way Gaffney approaches the event, you might even think it went double.

“For me, either way I still get nervous because it’s a nervous game,” Gaffney said. “But I feel like it’s more centered on every single shot instead of just the whole score, so it definitely is more individualized.”

Gaffney placed third in her age bracket at her local qualifier at Cantigny in Wheaton on June 26, earning the final qualifying spot for an Aug. 6 subregional at Cog Hill in Lemont.

Should she advance from that competition, Gaffney would travel to regionals at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, in September with a chance at nationals on the line. Those are held at one of golf’s most hallowed stages – Augusta National in Georgia – on April 5, 2015, the Sunday before The Masters opens.

Leery to get ahead of herself or her datebook, Gaffney tries to keep things light as best she can. She joked that in her case, the competition really was “Putt, Chip & Drive” at Cantigny, considering the order in which she played.

Athletes take three shots per skill and can earn up to 25 points per shot. Gaffney proved especially effective in the driving competition, finding the Ping i20 driver she received last Christmas improved her accuracy for scoring in the 40-yard wide fairway.

That success boosted her confidence in the finer points the rest of the way.

“Definitely just focusing in on those small areas shows you how important your short game is, definitely,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney tied for fourth with a 15-over par 86 at an IJGA event at Glendale Lakes on Tuesday. If adjusted, that marks a sound improvement from her nine-hole average of 52 as a Saints freshman.

With her father, Kevin, by her side, Gaffney is eager to keep advancing and build from last season’s sectional appearance, where she fired a 95 at Ingersoll in Rockford.

Her round at Glendale Lakes marked the first time she navigated the Glendale Heights course.

“Usually, I’ll study the card with my dad and then basically just try and look at it as much as I can when I’m on the course, so I know where the hazards are and stuff,” Gaffney said. “So I know semi what I’m doing.”

In the meantime, whether it’s a tournament, Gaffney gets to work on her core skills and earn scores for them.

Drive, chip, putt and exhale. Don’t forget that last one. It’s just as important.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

CHIP-INS

Ping! goes the Fourth

Family, fun, food and fireworks traditionally have made Independence Day an alliterative holiday.

This year, Hughes Creek in Elburn looks to add one more “F” to the Fourth of July fire: Foursome.

Today through Sunday, the course is offering a “Firecracker Fun Special” for all tee times after noon. The $120 package includes 18 holes with a cart for four players.

Golfers must register online at www.hughescreek.com. The promo code is “firecracker.”

Another online special is available at Settler’s Hill in Batavia today. By presenting a coupon available at www.settlershill.com, golfers can play 18 holes with a cart for $43 after 9 a.m. and $35 after 2 p.m. The rate is valid for up to four players per coupon.

Tanna Farms in Geneva (www.tannafarms.com) has added today to its usual weekend offering of $35 rounds after 1 p.m., valid when golfers present an online coupon.

Pottawatomie tourneys heat up

Championship month at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles is upon us.

The junior tournament, for boys and girls ages 12 to 17, is set for July 16 to 17. Pottawatomie’s Little Guys & Gals tournament for golfers 3 to 11 is July 15.

The men’s tournament, which shifted from a three-weekend format to two, begins July 19. The qualifying weekend was eliminated, as the field will be flighted by players’ CDGA or USGA handicaps.

In addition, the event is open to non-St. Charles residents for the first time. Registration for non-residents began Tuesday and will be accepted until a full field of 96 golfers is reached.

For information, contact the Pottawatomie pro shop at 630-584-8356.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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