Prep girls golf: Waunakee’s Sam Soulier leads through example, talent and pure effort
Waunakee’s Sam Soulier knows how to bounce back on the golf course.
Soulier carded four double bogeys in a row — on holes 10 through 13 — during Saturday’s tournament at Riverside Golf Course in Janesville. Many players would have been defeated by this rough stretch, coasting in over the final five holes.
Instead, Soulier played the rest of the course in 2-over par to finish tied for 12th among the 86-player field.
That resiliency, coupled with a quiet competiveness, has positioned Soulier to play some of her best golf during the postseason.
“I try not to go in (saying) ‘I need to win this.’ I just go and play my own game. I stay within myself, which is when good things happen,” said Soulier, a team captain.
Soulier, the reigning Badger North Conference Player of the Year, has her sights set on retaining the honor during Tuesday’s conference meet at The Legend at Bergamont in Oregon.
To earn that repeat, she’ll have to lean on the strengths of her game.
“She is really strong off the tee. She’s not the biggest person. … It is amazing, the distance she can get off the tee,” said Paul Miller, Waunakee’s 15th-year girls golf coach.
Soulier got the season off to a fast start on Aug. 28, shooting 3-over-par 77 to tie for medalist honors in Madison Edgewood’s Crusade Fore A Cure tournament at Maple Bluff Country Club. Waunakee (359) finished in second place, one stroke behind Middleton.
Soulier later claimed the Middleton Cardinal Invitational at Pleasant View on Sept. 8, shooting a 4-over-par 76. Her score was the only sub-80 round in the 112-player field. The Warriors’ team score of 338 put then nine shots ahead of team runner-up Brookfield Central.
In addition to her ability to drive the ball, Soulier recalls crucial times when savvy short-game play helped her.
“Short game is always something to rely on. At Middleton and Maple Bluff, the reason I was able to shoot so well was because of putting,” said the right-handed Soulier.
Adequate preparation is paramount in the postseason, and any bad hole might mean the end of the season for a player or team. Soulier and the Waunakee team will not take that fact lightly in the coming weeks.
“Know what to expect and be able to deal with the unexpected. … You have to take care of the first shot on the first hole and work from there until you finish,” said Miller.
Next year, Soulier plans to play collegiate golf. She doesn’t yet know where, but her first-place finish in the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin College Showcase event in July proved she is capable. Soulier fended off a 34-player field to win by one with a two-day total of 169 at Whistling Straits’ Irish Course in Kohler.
As the lone senior on a team that features one junior and three sophomores, Soulier leads by example on and off the course.
“We do a lot of fundraising things to help out the team. ... also leading the team in practice and drills,” Soulier said. “(I want to) set an example for years to come, because we have such a young team.”
Soulier’s coach will remember the ambition she helped instill within the program.
“She has really helped drive the competitive culture in a lot of the girls on the team,” Miller said.