MINOOKA – Alli Lee was asked to replace Minooka’s top girls golfer, Rachel Herzberger, who Lee describes as her mentor.
She was asked to do this as a sophomore.
For her success in doing so – Lee maintained a 44 average per nine holes for a Class AA sectional qualifier – she is the 2013 Morris Daily Herald Female Golfer of the Year.
Lee said she was probably 8 years old when she first picked up a golf club. Her father, Jimmy Lee, played the game, as did her two older brothers.
For years, Alli Lee played the game only occasionally, for fun. By around seventh grade, her trips to Mistwood Golf Club, where her father was a member, became more frequent. A turning point came when Lee was in eighth grade, when she said she started taking lessons from Tom Powers at Playin’ Thru Golf in Plainfield.
Then, as Lee was preparing to enter Minooka Community High School, she had the chance to join the Indians’ girls golf team.
“At first, actually, I thought I wasn’t going to because I didn’t think I was good enough,” Lee said. “Then my dad conviced me, ‘No, go do it,’ and then I ended up being on varsity later on in the year, so it was worth it.”
Before joining the team, Lee golfed only when she felt like it. Now she spends four to five hours a day during the summer practicing. In the winter, she estimates that she spends 10 hours a week at McQ’s Sports Dome in Romeoville.
“I came a long way since then,” Lee said. “My dad would always be like, ‘Go play. Go chip.’ Now it’s just me, like, I will want to get better, so I’ll go chip on my own. I usually only take lessons in the winter and then no lessons after winter, so winter’s when I reconstruct my swing and then I just build off that during the season.”
Filling big shoes
Lee’s ascention to the No. 1 position in the Indians’ lineup was much more rapid than it was for the player she replaced.
“It is very hard to compare the two because of the differences in the team makeup,” Minooka coach Joe Host said. “Rachel had time to emerge as a leader and assumed the role over time. Alli, on the other hand, was passed the baton and expected to run with it. That is very difficult for any one to be thrown into, but she matured a lot over the course of the year and welcomed the responsibilities that came with it.”
With the ability to hit the ball an average of 210 yards, and with accuracy, Lee said her driver is her favorite club. She admits her putting needs the most work, though, she considers herself a “decent chipper.”
“I would describe Alli as a perfectionist on the golf course,” Host said. “She has natural balance and timing to her swing, something most people work on every day they play. As a result, she is able to keep the ball out of trouble and give herself a chance to shoot good scores.”
And off the course, Lee is, Host said, one of the “great girls” that comprise the team.
“She was able to get her work in individually while still being a good teammate,” Host said. “She is able to find that balance between competing with the juniors and seniors and not losing contact with the sophomores and freshmen.”