This South Carolina high school golfer isn't just playing against the boys — she's beating them
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Distance is rarely a problem for the No. 1 golfer at Broome High School in this upstate Carolina city. Hanna (...)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Distance is rarely a problem for the No. 1 golfer at Broome High School in this upstate Carolina city.
Hanna Webber can bomb it.
That’s where the similarities to her competition ends, though. Webber, a junior who moved into the Centurions’ No. 1 spot this season, plays with the boys team since the school doesn’t field a girls golf program.
She said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I hit it pretty far for a girl, anyway,” she said. “I like playing from the white tees instead of the reds. I’d really rather do this. I’d rather play with the boys.”
Webber has been on the radar of Broome coach Spencer Dearybury since she was in elementary school. There, the two bonded over the sport.
“I taught her PE at Pacolet Elementary, and we did the First Tee program there,” he said. “She was that kid always talking about golf. She knew I was the golf coach. Our relationship goes back that far.
“As soon as she got to middle school, she’s been on our varsity team since seventh grade. We’ve looked for the past few years at trying to start a girls team, and her comments have always been that she’d rather play with the guys and with me. I talk to her about the benefits of playing from tees that aren’t as far back, but she doesn’t mind that.”
Webber said starting on the varsity team so early left her a lot to figure out, and that she’s grateful to have done that.
“Not only was I the only girl, I was the youngest on the team, too,” she said. “It was hard for me to make friends at first, but I tried to find my way. I’m really competitive, so I tried to use my competitive spirit to connect with the guys. We have a good time now, and I really like the people that I play with. We have good relationships all around.”
That competitive spirit was helped by Webber’s prodigious length off the tee. She estimates she hits her driver “about 230 (yards)”, something that Dearybury said he has to take into account when she’s playing girls events away from the high school season.
“She plays a lot of tournaments in the summer,” Dearybury said. “I’ll talk with her dad, see what she shot, and we’ll talk about how she really has to work on her short game. That’s mainly because from the red tees at our place, she’s hitting driver and then less than a wedge into the green. These last few weeks we’re practicing from blues (to replicate tournament conditions), and she goes around like one of the guys. She gets used to playing from the back.”
Webber said the women’s tees have turned into a bigger adjustment for her than playing from the men’s tees, and sometimes negates the advantage she can enjoy with her driver.
“Normally from the reds, I don’t hit driver,” she said. “There are some rounds I barely touch it unless it’s a par-5. It’s just constantly having to adjust your distances and finding out what club to hit from the tee boxes and the fairways.”
Webber said she enjoys playing in girls tournaments, and enjoys the friendships she has made with fellow competitors. However, she has bonded with the boys team and feels at home. That’s something Dearybury has noticed about his junior leader.
“It’s not to say she’s one of the guys, but I don’t think our guys see a girl they’re playing with. They see Hanna the golfer. The teammate. She’s one of our leaders. When we go to the range to work on technical things with our swing, she’s been in it so long I’ll have her work with some of them,” he said. “She’s great in that aspect. And she’s a good golfer. She was our low scorer at the region tournament. Guys kind of look up to her and ask her for advice, and you don’t see that every day.”
Dearybury doesn’t get to see Webber every day, either. More and more, he has found himself trusting her to fend for herself on match days, because he knows she can.
“We have several brand-new golfers, and I know I’ll need to be on the course with them,” he said, “but I don’t have to worry about Hanna, because she’s been with us so long and she’s so steady.”
Webber said she thinks she’s grown into the No. 1 role and is enjoying her spot on the team.
“I’ve noticed my nature has kind of changed,” she said. “It’s brought out my confidence. I enjoy joking with everybody, just being competitive, and it’s created a really good relationship.”