ATWATER – Heather Parker came into this season hoping to improve on two areas of her game: putting and staying positive.
She worked hard this summer to become better on the green.
She was tired of setting herself up in good position early in holes only to struggle with the putter.
The Buhach Colony senior also came a long way in the mental aspect of the game. Parker didn’t want one bad shot to lead to two or three.
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As a result, Parker had a stellar season, winning the Central California Conference tournament at the end of the year and advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament for the second straight season. Parker’s accomplishments have earned her the honor of Sun-Star Golfer of the Year.
“Heather really dedicated herself,” said Buhach Colony coach Steve Abrams. “She has a great passion for the sport. She’s well disciplined. She gets along with everybody. She has a great temperament for the game. It’s neat to see her have the success she had.”
Parker didn’t start playing golf until her sophomore year. She was encouraged to try by her family and when she had shoulder surgery in 2012, she was forced to give up other sports like soccer and softball.
“When I first started playing it was fun hitting balls, but it wasn’t until I started learning about the game that I fell in love with it,” Parker said.
Parker proved to be a quick learner.
She advanced to Masters as a junior last year in just her second year of playing the sport. Parker upped her game by playing in six or seven Junior Golf Association of Northern California Tournaments this past summer.
When she wasn’t playing tournaments she was practicing.
“During the summer I practiced every day for a couple hours,” Parker said. “I knew this was going to be my last year. I had a lot of pressure on myself.”
In the past, Parker’s own high expectations worked against her when things weren’t going well on the course. She’s worked hard to improve that.
“I’ve a very negative person,” she said. “I try to think positive. I try not to think about the end result. I try to focus on what’s happening right now.”
Parker showed how far she’s come in winning the CCC Tournament after recording a triple bogey on the second hole. Instead of letting the round get away from her, she battled back to record a round of 86.Her round of 90 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 South Tournament was good enough to qualify her for Masters.
“I was very nervous. I remember thinking I wasn’t going to be able to go to Masters this year,” Parker said. “I ended up being the top individual (not on a qualifying team) to go. But that was scary.”
Parker’s golf career didn’t end at Masters. She accepted a scholarship to play at Cal State East Bay.
“I’m really excited about that,” Parker said. “I was hoping I could do it. I feel all my hard work paid off.”