By BRADEN LAYER
---- — With a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship on the line, Kaskaskia College sophomore Taylor Hinkle wasn't nervous. In fact, the Teutopolis native felt right at home.Playing in the women's golf Region 24 championship, Hinkle found herself walking the fairways of Effingham Country Club, a course she's seen many times before. "I started playing there right before my high school golf career started," she said. "I play there over the summers with my dad."Understanding the fine details of the course, Hinkle braved the wet conditions to fire a two-round total of 197. Excluding John A. Logan College, which qualified their entire team, Hinkle's rounds of 98 and 99 were good enough for a fifth-place finish at the regional. She was championship bound."I knew where to hit it, where to land the ball on the green and where not to land it," she said. "I had a little bit more experience with the course."Hinkle may have been familiar with the site of the NJCAA regional, but now a whole new obstacle lies ahead. From May 13-16, Hinkle will travel to Long Bow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona, to compete against the nation's best at the national championship."I was just honored to be able to go," she said. "I just want to be able to play my best and enjoy my time out there."Leaving the wet Illinois weather for better and brighter Arizona skies doesn't sound like a bad gig, and Hinkle said she is ready for the exciting trip."It feels pretty awesome," she said. "It's my last year playing golf, I want to be able to go to Arizona and represent my school. It's pretty cool."Following the tournament, Hinkle will hang up her competitive clubs for the time being, as she plans to head to Illinois State next fall to major in human development.First, however, she one goal left she wishes to accomplish."I would love to be able to shoot in the 80s," she said. "I've been in a slump with my game the whole spring, so that would be my ideal goal. It would be a great way to experience the trip."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org