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THE GRIND: Despite three state titles, Lambert's Marschke more driven than ever
Grind Kayley 8 031616 web
Lambert's Kayley Marschke has already won three state titles with the Lady Longhorns' golf team, has already signed to play for Auburn, but is more determined than ever to win state title No. 4. - photo by Micah Green

Everything seems to be smooth-sailing for senior Kayley Marschke and the rest of the Lambert girls golf team. The Lady Longhorns are in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth-consecutive state championship, and they’re off to a fast start.

Marschke, fellow senior Lauren Lightfritz, South Forsyth-transfer Tiffany Kang, Christine McDonnell, Kate Owen and Alison Crenshaw have combined to give the team wins in their first three tournaments of the season.

This past weekend, Marschke had her best round of the season—a 70 at the West Hall Invitational. As much as the team has dominated the ranks out of the gate, Marschke admits she’s been tough on herself through the beginning of her final year of high school golf. For example, she opened the season with a 76—good, but not good enough.

It’s not a big deal, she says. It’s just the way she is, but she also admits a crucial balance must exist between her drive to be the best on the course, and staying relaxed.

“Golf is pretty much 100 percent a mental game,” Marschke said. “The first couple of weeks I didn’t have my best rounds. I want to be the best on the team being a senior. But, I went and talked to coach (Joel Posey) and he just reminded me that I’m good, I need to trust myself. One of the things he keeps saying to me is to just trust my shot. After playing well last weekend, it was a confidence booster for me.”

The truth is, not every top-level high school golfer shares a roster spot with five others who could own a top spot on another team. It’s what has made Lambert so good, and has created an internal, friendly competition between teammates.

“We’re serious, but we have fun,” Marschke said. “Not a lot of golf teams have what we have, so every day we are challenging each other to be our best, on and off the course, and that has honestly gotten us to where we are.”

Marschke still can’t believe she and her team really is where they are. As someone who has played golf for 10 years, and competed in a number of prestigious tournaments with the American Junior Golf Association, her journey has mostly been a preliminary pathway to a career on the course.

Marschke was homeschooled between the third and eighth grade, and during that time learned discipline and habits on her own. Her mother would allow her to do her homework in her own time, as long as it got done, which Marschke said made way for more daylight on the course.

So she’d practice for hours until sundown, then go home and knock out her school work. She received individual coaching and would play as much as 36 holes in a day. Even as a youngster, the hard work paid off.

Marschke has been tabbed by her coaches, parents and peers as a Division I-caliber golfer since she was in the eighth grade, and has taken that to heart. When the season is over she’ll head to Auburn to play collegiately, and from there hopes to one day make it onto the LPGA Tour.

With so much ambition that transcends her high school experience, the formerly home-schooled senior has been taking everything about being a Lambert Lady Longhorn to heart. Nothing matters more to her than winning a fourth state championship. In fact, anything but would be a huge disappointment.

“Coming into my senior year, Lauren (Lightfritz) and I were just hungrier than ever,” Marschke said. “We have a stronger team than we’ve had, we’ve been working hard and we have extreme confidence.”

But the pursuit of a title is only one part of what makes this year so important for Marschke.

“It’s nice to be the leader of a team, as a senior,” Marschke said. “I’ve definitely taken that role to heart. We’re a family here. It’s more than just golf. We deal with school, life, everything, whatever a teammate needs.”