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  • Vardas golf
    (PHOTO | KATHY VARDAS) Lexington High golfer Karlee Vardas after winning S.C. High School League Class 5A individual medalist honors on Oct. 28.

GEORGE BRYAN COLUMN - New state champion Vardas finds quick success

Karlee Vardas recently committed to play golf at Georgia Southern.
The Lexington High School junior is currently the 2nd ranked girl in her classification in South Carolina. On Oct. 28, she won a 2-hole playoff to claim the S.C. High School League Class 5A individual title in Prosperity. This is quite impressive considering she has only played for a few years.
“My dad got me started when I was 12, which was the summer after sixth grade,” Vardas said. “I played my first 18 holes by the end of that summer.”
The opportunity to commit to a leading Division 1 program this early means rapid skill development and hard work. Most don’t realize that Division 1 major college coaches are watching girls compete closely in 7th and 8th grade, so the “recruiting lists” are prioritized and established by them before players enter high school.
These “recruiting list” are established based on performance, so it’s important to play well as an 8th and 9th grader. So, Vardas obviously met those requirements.
When asked what influenced the decision to attend Georgia Southern and early commit, Vardas replied she “liked the campus and dorm style apartments.” Georgia Southern also has in her words “a great practice      facility and golf course.”
“Mostly, the Georgia Southern coaches and the women’s team were one of the biggest factors in my  decision,” Vardas said.
Vardas said her short-term goal is to “get stronger in the weight room” and focus on the “bigger tournaments” like the USGA and AJGA tournaments. Her long-term goals are “college tournaments and preparing for LPGA Q School.”
Karlee’s last quote referencing “off-season” training is a good set up for Part 1 of our “Winter GS Training Series.”
It’s a simple start, too. Think about yours. Winter does not start until December, but between now and then, decide what yours is going to be.
In addition to high school girls golf results, I’m going to Spotlight Gyms, and golf specialty trainers in the community next week.
It’s “Winter Tour” registration time and this youth and family recreational golf option is heading into its 28th season.
The programs theme from inception has been on families spending time together over golf. The Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commision co-sponsored the event and Donnie Lindler, a Crooked Creek Park athletics administrator, along with Mark Steelman, Chris Miller, and “E” Rutherford, all local golf professionals, were on the founding Winter Tour team.
The Winter Tour is a developmental program that targets youth ages 5-17 from brand new to college prep. Over 16 courses     support the program all over the Midlands.
Parents are required to participate as caddies, guides, fans, 4 caddies or spectators and all learning takes play during play.   Families explore, learn and play together on the course.         The designated play days are Sunday afternoons at 3 pm at different courses all over the Midlands.
This season, Exit Palmetto Real Estate with Tsunami Bar Sports is sponsoring a new developmental initiative that will be conducted in tandem with the Winter Youth Golf Tour. For more information, go to www.growgolfnow.com or call the Crooked Creek or Seven Oaks (803) 345-6181.

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