Horry County—and Carolina Forest High School, specifically—is becoming a popular place for junior golfers to migrate to improve their games.
The most recent new arrival making an impact for the Panthers is Sydney Abruzzino, a junior transfer from Wilmington, N.C.
In a region match last Wednesday, Abruzzino fired a 1-over par 37 to lead the Lady Panthers past Conway 173 to 212 on the 2,356-yard front nine at Myrtle Beach National’s Southcreek course.
Like many who transfer here, Abruzzino said she hopes to draw looks from college teams. A few more rounds like Wednesday’s ought to do the trick.
“I moved here because there’s a golf course on every corner, and juniors can play here for less than anywhere in Wilmington,” she said. “Plus I want to play golf in college.”
Wednesday’s round included birdies on the par 5 second and sixth holes. The junior standout barely missed out on an even par 36 when she three-putted from 12 feet on the 248-yard fifth, her final hole in the shotgun start.
“[Putting] is the most important part because on any day you can hit it a long way, but not everyone can make a short putt,” she said.
Even with the three-jack, Abruzzino completed her round in 16 putts. Her secret?
“I pick out a spot in front of me and try to hit that spot and not the hole,” she said.
Abruzzino is currently averaging 41.3 strokes per nine-hole match, and 42 shots overall.
CFHS coach Vil Caroso said the biggest adjustment she’s had to make involves playing from the forward tees.
Caroso said Abruzzino is a frequent competitor on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, where he said she often competes from tees set at 6,000 yards per 18-hole event. Most forward tees are typically set between 4,800 and 5,000 yards.
“Syndney is coming along,” Caroso said. “She’s very good and has been playing for a long time. She can drive most of these greens. She hits it a mile.”
Also playing well Wednesday was sophomore Sami Spencer, who carded a 5-over par 41 that included an excruciating bogey on the 285-yard ninth where she pitched to two feet, but couldn’t convert the par save.
Caroso said Spencer has tremendous talent, but sometimes struggles due to a busy school itinerary that also includes JROTC and other commitments.
“She’s finding her game,” Caroso said. “She’s up and down right now.”
Other leading scorers Wednesday were Jackie Brown, 46; and Anna Park, 49.
Senior Jamie Karl, a six-year veteran of the team who’s averaging 38.0 strokes in nine-hole matches and 41.5 overall, didn’t compete. Caroso said he gave his leading scorer a rest in order and to rotate other players into the lineup.
Carolina Forest is 3-0 so far this season and heavily favored to win the region. Caroso said he also has high hopes the Lady Panthers can finish among the top tier in the Class AAAA state tournament, saying the team goal is to score 320—an average of 80 strokes per player.
In the Patriot Invitational held in Summerville the weekend of Sept. 19-20, the Lady Panthers shot 343-360—703.
Abruzzino led the Lady Panthers at 83-87—170. Karl wasn’t far behind with 83-90—173.
Carolina Forest’s next scheduled matches were Monday against Socastee and Tuesday at North Myrtle Beach. A Sept. 24 match against Sept. 24 was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Lady Panthers are also entered in the 36-hole Lady Blue Jacket Invitational Oct. 3-4 at Black Bear Golf Club in Longs.