CHEYENNE – Dara Hill spent her freshman year of high school on Cheyenne South’s volleyball team.
She decided midway through that season she was going to hang up her sneakers because she wasn’t playing much. She didn’t want that to be the end of her athletic career, though.
Hill had grown up playing a dozen or so rounds of golf with her paternal grandmother, Dawn Hill, each summer, so she joined the Lady Bison golf team in the spring of her freshman year.
“I knew I liked playing golf with my grandma, so I thought I would give high school golf a try,” said Hill, who is now a senior. “I have liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I like being part of a small, really close team, and the competition part of it is nice, too.”
Playing well doesn’t hurt, either. Hill was South’s top girls finisher at last fall’s Class 4A state meet, tying for 20th with a two-round score of 194. As a sophomore, Hill was 36th at state with a score of 232.
She has notched four top-eight finishes this season.
“Being able to keep your confidence steady makes or breaks your round,” said Hill, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during basketball practice last December.
Hill isn’t the only Bison golfer to take to the sport late and rapidly rise up the standings.
Paige Guille – who has primarily been home-schooled – started playing golf prior to the fall of her freshman year when her family discovered many women’s college golf scholarships go unused. Guille spent the summer practicing and playing, and placed 26th at state. She was the lone South girl entered in the tournament that fall.
“I started playing golf with a scholarship in mind, but the sport has really become a passion,” the senior said. “There are days I’m on fire and hitting the ball super well, and I love it. Then there are days I’m shanking things left and right, and finding myself under every tree on the course, and it’s really frustrating.”
Guille broke 100 when South hosted the Bison Invitational at Warren Golf Course on April 27, 2018.
“Once a golfer breaks 100 and gets into the 90s, they can just keep going from there,” Guille said. “It’s like a mental hurdle they have to clear. Once you do it, it becomes normal. A lot of people have fear before they do it.
“They think, “OK, I’m doing well now, but there’s still plenty of time for things to go wrong.”
Things have only gotten better for Guille since she cracked the century mark. She tied for 15th at state as a sophomore in 2018, shooting 190 at the Airport Golf Course. She missed last year’s state tournament because it conflicted with her role in the Cheyenne Little Theater Players’ production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Guille earned medalists honors at the second Cheyenne Triangular on Sept. 4 at the Cheyenne Country Club. She also has tallied a runner-up finish, one sixth-place effort and taken seventh another time.
“A lot of my improvement was finally getting a true understanding of the game,” Guille said. “It helped playing tournament at courses I had played before. I was able to picture the course in my mind, revisit what I had done and kind of map it out.
“I also spent a lot of time learning from my coaches how to make consistent contact and aim.”
The path Hill and Guille took to success on the links has been common for South golfers, coach Eric Haag said.
“We usually get the unpolished golfer without much experience,” he said. “If they want it bad enough, and they work on their games, we can get them to the point where they’re really competitive.
“Having a little athleticism and a lot of want-to makes a lot of difference.”
Over the past two years, Hill, Guille and junior Brynley Guille have helped South do something it hadn’t done in school history: post a team score. High school girls golf teams must have three players in order to factor in the team standings. The Bison have been one or two players short throughout their history.
Much to Hill and Paige Guille’s dismay, that could very well be the case again next fall when Brynley Guille is the lone Lady Bison. But it’s not for a lack of trying.
“I have tried to tell every girl I encounter they should come out for golf in high school,” Paige Guille said. “They all give me the same grimace face. I have really had a lot of fun playing with this team.
“We’re all so proud of each other, especially when we all place in tournaments. Not only is it great to see how well we’ve done individually, but we did well as a team, too.”
South, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East and Laramie were all taking part in the Cheyenne Quadrangular on Friday at Airport Golf Club. But the event was called off only a few holes in because of the steady rain and low temperatures.