Published 12:00 am Monday, May 11, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 11, 1998

LAPLACE – Ask most golfers what is the hardest part of the game and many will tell you it is standing on the first tee, ready to hit their first shot of the day.

There are few things in sports like standing on that first tee box, usually with other golfers looking on, knowing that first shot is one of the most important of the day.

St. Charles Catholic’s Christie Pickering knows all about that feeling. ButPickering was able to overcome the first-tee jitters to finish tied for 17th at the girls golf state tournament held recently in Shreveport. Whatmakes that ranking even more the impressive was that she was the highest finisher for Divisions IV and V. And, of the 17 girls in front of her,14 were from Division I.

Pickering shot a 97 the first day on the 5,431 yard, Par 71 East Ridge Country Club course, and came back the second day to shoot a 106. Hertwo-day total of 203 tied her with Melissa Johnson of Caddo Magnet School.

Getting used to a new course takes some time, but Pickering said she did pretty good in the practice round held the day before the tournament.

“Every hole was different,” Pickering said of the greens. “And if you didn’tstay in the fairway, you were pretty much in trouble.”Pickering, a junior at St. Charles Catholic, started playing golf thesummer of her seventh-grade year with her father who taught her about the game. She has also received instruction from some pretty impressivenames – Rick Smith, the golf pro at Riverlands; Rob Noel, the golf instructor at Bayou Oaks at City Park and Tommy Moore, the golf pro at English Turn.

During her summers, Pickering plays on the New Orleans Golf Association junior tour and the junior PGA. Last year, she finished third on the NOGAtour in scoring average at her age group.

Pickering has played on the St. Charles Catholic team for the past threeyears, playing in the state tournament each year. She said she usuallyshoots in the high 80s or low 90s with her best round of 84 coming at Riverlands two days before the state tournament.

“She has always been consistent,” St. Charles Catholic golf coach WaydeKeiser said.

Pickering said it was different from playing on a team to going to state as the lone girl from the school.

“You get nervous playing by yourself,” Pickering said.

As for the first tee, Pickering said it can get a little nervous with everyone looking on but that she tries not to think about it and is usually okay by the second or third hole. On the course, Pickering said she iscompeting against both the course and the other girls.

Pickering said she tries to play on the weekends and likes playing with her dad. As for her future, Pickering said she is planning to play for theComets again next year and then going to college where she will try to play on the golf team.

Keiser said he has seen improvement in her game year after year and that her finish in the state tournament can only help her career.

“It was a showing for her,” Keiser said. “I see it catapulting her to goodthings next year in prep and individually.”

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