A quick study
Golf runs deep in Emily Gushrowski’s family, from grandpa Don Butler to dad Jerry, mom Kim, aunt Kathy, brother Nick and cousin Rich.
“The whole family pretty much golfs,” Emily said. “There’s a natural ability in everyone.”
It took Emily a while to find her way to the game. She didn’t take up golf until her freshman year, but the Michigan City senior has been some kind of quick study, ascending from beginner status to scoring in the 90s, with an offer to play in college at Holy Cross, in that short period of time.
“Usually, you don’t see someone who just started progress to where I am now,” she said. “It’s kind of weird. I’ve wondered if I had started golf earlier, I would be accomplishing more.”
Wolves coach Drew White prefers to think of it in terms of what is rather than what could have been.
“The amount of work she’s put in continuously, is unprecedented,” White said. “She’s come so far in four years. The first two years, her scores never equated to the work she put in, which, quite honestly, can be a disheartening feeling for a kid. She was doing all the right things, but not getting the results. Her junior year came around, her scores started coming down.”
On Saturday, Gushrowski will join the Wolves in the Battleground Regional, an unlikely destination for an athletic path that didn’t begin on a golf course, but in a gymnastics room.
“My sisters (Megan and Kristen) and I all did gymnastics probably over 10 years,” she said.
A Level 7 by the time she was in sixth grade, Gushrowski was a varsity gymnast as a freshman, when she did both sports, only to break her hand late in the season. She wouldn’t compete in another meet as a broken ankle sustained in her sophomore preseason that required three screws ended that career and put her focus solely on golf.
“I feel like she was waiting for me to do golf,” Gushrowski said of her mom, who played along with her aunt on an Elston state-qualifying team. “She’s probably happy to have one of the girls doing it.”
For Gushrowski, it wasn’t enough just to be playing. She rolled her eyes at thought of the “embarrassing” 60s and even a 70 she shot for nine holes as a freshman.
“I hate doing sports and not being good,” Gushrowski said. “I wanted to be serious, I wanted to be good. I made myself practice. I put in all the work. Lia (Thomas) and Taylor (Skibinski) push me to get better. If they’re practicing things, I look at it like I’m going to have to double that to catch up. My brother being good makes me want to be good as well. He has such a good feel for chipping. I want to beat him someday.”
In addition to help from dad and grandpa, Emily began taking lessons with Nick with Kevin Weeks at Cog Hill. Grandpa Don is also the manager at Grand Beach, where she and Nick, a state qualifier last season, play each other with the loser buying ice cream.
“She has all the tools, all the best equipment, her mom, her dad, the swing doctors she went to,” White said. “Emily has everything in the bag to be successful. Sometimes, she just doesn’t realize what she has at her disposal. She doesn’t want to accept failure. She’s a great kid, but a lot of times, she beats herself up. Even when she’s had some success, she doesn’t allow herself to give herself credit.”
Typically a solid putter, Gushrowski saw marked progress in her drives at the La Porte Sectional, where her 92 helped City to the school’s first title in the sport.
“My sisters had accomplished stuff in gymnastics and there’s Nick doing all that with golf, I felt like I was the one in the family who hadn’t accomplished anything,” she said. “It was nice to go to regionals last year and make history with that, and to win this year is really big, too. It would be nice to go to state, especially if the team can go. My mom said, hey, maybe you’re saving your best round. I’m definitely going to try my hardest.”
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, it will be a season to remember for the program.
“I think Emily felt a lot of pressure coming into this year because expectations had changed,” White said. “The year Emma (Sells) and Emily came into the program, we won four matches. Those two kind of ushered us into a new realm.”