Despite the success of her freshman season, Delaney Elliott isn’t one of those golfers who believes she will get better simply due to natural progression.
Sure, she finished in the top 20 of the Class 5A state tournament last season and averaged a 78 for her Monarch squad, but those numbers aren’t going to magically improve solely because she’s now a sophomore.
“I think fine-tuning is important,” Elliott said. “I worked really hard over the winter on my putting and short game, which will bring (scores) down a little bit. I’d like to get some wins in the spring, too, because last year I came in second a couple times.”
Elliott’s older brother, Jackson, is a senior for the Coyotes boys golf team. The siblings practiced together regularly while growing up, but not as much anymore. Jackson doesn’t plan to golf in college (he’s considering Colorado, Wake Forest and Wisconsin), but Delaney does.
“Definitely that’s what I want to do,” she said. “I want to play somewhere. I just don’t know where yet.”
Count Monarch coach Mike Riley as an unabashed fan of his sophomore standout. She finished in a tie for 19th place at state last at Tiara Rado Golf Course. She shot a 78 on Day 1 before settling for an 86 on Day 2.
Riley believes she would have finished a few spots higher if not for an error read on the final hole — “one that I helped her with, unfortunately,” he said — and believes she will climb the ladder on the state scorecard this season.
There was nothing fluky about her marvelous freshman season, the coach said. It was all due to ability and fierce dedication.
“She really matured and I look for a real strong season from her this year,” Riley said. “She’s got all the weapons. She can putt, she drives the ball well, has great iron work and a great chipping ability as well.”
Riley’s only mild complaint is that Elliott can be too much of a perfectionist. It’s something Elliott admits, too.
“Golf isn’t a perfect game and so you can’t get mad at yourself when it doesn’t go exactly the way you want it,” Riley said. “She’s handles that pretty well, but I think as she matures it will be even better.
“I don’t see a weakness in her. It’s just that she wants to do so well that she gets disappointed in herself if she messes up a shot here or there.”
Said Elliott: “Definitely a goal of mine this year will to be to keep myself under control and brush off the bad holes, because that’s what causes other bad shots.”
Elliott said she has done a good job of dialing it back and keeping herself level, but that it’s “always a process.”
Assessing her own game, Elliott said her ability to shoot straight in the fairway is one of the biggest plusses. Putting and missing the occasional short shot is something she’s trying to progress on.
With her tireless work ethic, those fixes likely will be made. An ascension at state isn’t out of the question, either.
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