Student, PGA pro help grow game of golf - Camp Lejeune Globe: Sports

Student, PGA pro help grow game of golf

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  • Student, PGA pro help grow game of golf

    From left,  PGA professional John Johnson, Ashley Bowling, Michayla Wittner, Jamie Mercer and Michael Wittner pose for a photo during a Golf Get Ready Session at Paradise Point on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 23.

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2019 8:00 am

Michayla Wittner wanted to play golf, but the Southwest Onslow High School student was tired of always having to tee it up against boys. The school didn’t have a girls golf team, so she played on the boys team last spring.

That’s where Professional Golf Association professional John Johnson and the Marine Corps Community Services’ Get Golf Ready program came to help.

Wittner, known by her nickname of M.K., started recruiting players, with Johnson helping them to improve their games through the Get Golf Ready program.

On Feb. 23, the team had a putting work session at the Paradise Point golf course on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

“M.K. has been taking lessons at Paradise Point for years now,” said Johnson, Paradise Point’s PGA professional. “She addressed me about growing the girls game at the school. We offered the Get Golf Ready program for anyone that was interested in joining the team.”

Wittner served as the pioneer for Southwest girls golf team, which played its first season in the fall of 2018.

“When it came to playing on the boys team, I didn’t think I would make it because of the [difference] in gender roles,” Wittner said. “Girls can play just as well as guys in golf.”

Wittner was named second-team all-conference with the girls team in the fall. She finished 17th in the 1A/2A eastern regional tournament and qualified for the state tournament.

“At first, I was scared competing at states because I knew the other girls would be better than me,” Wittner said. “During regionals and other matches, I made friends with the other competitors who helped me through not being scared.”

Wittner went on to place 56th in the state championship.

Freshman Ashley Bowling and sophomore Jaime Mercer joined Wittner on the girls golf team.

“M.K. was pretty determined in creating a girls golf team,” Bowling said. “I joined the team so I could help her. She showed that she really wanted it, so I thought it would be good to help her get the program started.”

Bowling qualified for and played in the 2018 Eastern North Carolina Junior Golf League Finals. The freshman golfer will compete again this year, this time as a Stallion.

“At first, I was intimidated playing golf at Camp Lejeune because I haven’t been around Marines,” Mercer said. “I have learned from Mr. Johnson how to put my whole body into my swing when I golf. Watching a professional play, I realize that even the pros mess up, so if I do [make a mistake], it will be OK. Girls golf is very important and shows that girls can do just about anything.”

Michayla Wittner’s father, Michael Wittner, is the coach of the Southwest girls and boys golf teams. He shares coaching duties with coach Robert Johnson.

“The girls have come a long way since last year,” said Michael Wittner. “The goal for the team is to get at least two if not all three golfers to regionals this year.”

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