By Blake Ells
Recent Spain Park graduate Caroline Waldrop is still competing in state tournaments this summer before leaving for college.
She just wrapped up a second-place finish at the 55th Alabama Girls State Junior Championship of the Alabama Golf Association, hosted by Montgomery Country Club, shooting 79-69-81—221, finishing seven strokes behind Michaela Morard from Huntsville.
Waldrop has been competing in the Alabama Girls State Junior Championship since middle school, and she wrapped up her eligibility to compete in the tournament with her highest finish.
Now, she’s playing in the 86th Alabama Women’s State Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham, which runs through July 13.
“Last year, I didn’t play in any of the state stuff. I didn’t play in stroke play or the girls’ junior because I was off somewhere else trying to get attention,” Waldrop said.
“I traveled around a lot, so I didn’t get to see a lot of my close Alabama friends during the summer. I knew this was my last summer before I leave for college and that there were some of these tournaments that I wouldn’t be able to ever play again,” she said. “The Alabama Girls State Junior Championship is one that you want to play every chance you can because you get close to all of these people over the years. They become sisters on the road because you’re always together.”
Her finish was sparked by an impressive second round. Waldrop entered day two with a one stroke lead, and she played the round with longtime friend Ally Williams of Athens, which was a comfortable pairing. The two finished the tournament in a tie for second.
Williams, who will be a senior in the next academic year, will play her collegiate golf at Mississippi State.
Waldrop’s round consisted of four birdies, 12 pars, one bogey and one double-bogey.
“You just tried to place it in the right spots here and there,” she said of the relaxed feel of her second round. “If you made a bad shot, you tried to get it back. If you didn’t, good, you still keep improving.”
Waldrop will begin her collegiate career at Western Kentucky in August. It was an arduous recruiting process that involved about 10 schools, and she’s relieved that it concluded early. Waldrop signed her letter of intent in November and said she’s eager to get to Bowling Green and hit the ground running with coach Adam Gary.
“Some people still talk about the recruiting process because they’re still going through it,” she said. “But I’m very happy to be done with it, and I’m very happy with my decision and I’m excited for August.”
She’s played on the high school team at Spain Park since she was in seventh grade and she is the only departing senior. Waldrop said her final days with the Jaguars were emotional.
“There were definitely some tears shed,” she said. “I think they’re going to play well over the next couple of years, and I’ll support them all the way.”
It’s a career that began when she was just 6 years old.
“We had just moved from Trussville to Greystone,” she said. “Dad was playing a lot of golf and I always wanted to go with him. I went to mom and dad before my sixth Christmas and said, ‘I want to play golf.’ So, I got my first set of clubs that Christmas. That was how golf started for me. They had no idea what I was getting into.”