Lambert’s girls golf team won its fifth straight state championship when Rachel Burrell was a freshman.
She witnessed that team’s leadership firsthand.
There was Christine McDonnell, who graduated later that month and enrolled at Navy. Alison Crenshaw now plays for the University of Georgia, while Loren Kim wound up at Berry College and Kate Owens is an All-Colonial Athletic Association golfer at James Madison.
This year it was Burrell’s turn to lead the Longhorns, a role she stepped into seamlessly, according to head coach Shane Fortenberry.
For Burrell, who is the Forsyth County News Girls Golfer of the Year, she felt like she was just following in those players’ footsteps.
“I think I just kind of learned from the girls in the past basically what to do when you’re the team leader and the oldest and just how to organize everything,” Burrell said. “I think I just followed in their footsteps, because we’ve had a lot of great team leaders.”
Burrell placed second individually at last year’s Class 7A state championship, including the only under par round of the tournament (1-under 71), carding a 4-over 148 to help the Longhorns secure the title.
She averaged a shade over 77 strokes per 18 holes as a junior.
Following the school season, Lambert tested itself against the top high school teams in the country, placing third behind California and South Carolina in the 2019 High School Golf National Invitational in Orlando, Florida.
Burrell tied for 20th individually, finishing with a 10-over 154.
Burrell shined in the offseason, qualifying for the USGA Women’s Amateur, where she missed the cut after a two-day total of 10-over 154.
Still, she collected six birdies in the tournament, including a pair on a par 5 that stretched more than 500 yards.
“I didn’t make the cut, but for how hard the course was and for my first time being in an atmosphere like that, I think I did decent,” Burrell said. “I mean, I obviously think I could have easily made the cut. I just made stupid mistakes here and there. Other than that, I think I did pretty well.”
Burrell hopes her best golf is in front of her, though she will attend Georgia Tech, which does not field a women’s golf team.
She remains active on the course, playing 18 holes as recently as Saturday, and hopes she can be the driving force behind starting a women’s golf program at Georgia Tech.
“My thing is, I have to balance academics and golf, and with me being an engineering major, a lot of school that I could’ve went and played golf for didn’t actually have a STEM program. It didn’t really work out that way, so I’m going to Georgia Tech. But I’m hoping to start a women’s team there, because they have a men’s (team). I’m probably going to try and get a women’s program started up.”