E.A. Sports Today

Life in the fast Layne

[corner-ad id=2]Reigning girls high school champion Dyar testing her game and swing changes in Calhoun County Men’s Championship this weekend

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Layne Dyar isn’t interested in being any kind of trailblazer. Her only interest this week as the only woman in the 79th Calhoun County Championship is the golf.

When the rising White Plains senior tees it up in the players flights Saturday at Cane Creek Golf Course, she will be the third female to ever play in the previously all-male event.

Former Oxford and Jacksonville State golfer Ashley Cox broke the gender barrier in 2005 and former Alexandria and Columbus State golfer Madison Williams followed her lead in 2009. Cox finished seventh in the second flight the year she played.

In both cases, the players were interested only in testing their games against strong competition and Dyar’s motivation is the same.

“I’m just going to go out there and have fun, and people can talk if they want to,” Dyar said. “It’s just for the love of the game. I just love to play golf and that’s why I’m there.

“We’re going to play golf; there’s really nothing to it. It’s just playing golf. There are plenty of tournaments where there are guys and girls playing in it.”

More of a concern to her is seeing how the “really big” swing changes she’s been working on with coach Marcus Harrell since helping the Wildcats win the state championship in May hold up under the pressure of a major tournament.

The only explanation of the changes she gave was they changed her swing “about a foot.” In a more technical sense she coming across the line at the top of her back swing.

“We are always working to make her golf game as good as possible,” Harrell said. “Layne was already a great player with the swing she had, but I knew with her work ethic and a few ‘tweaks’ we could turn her into an elite player.

“She completely trusted what I told her to do and put in a lot of hours doing drills day and night to fix the problem. That’s the kind of work ethic it takes to be elite.”

Dyar had been playing while going through the process and didn’t shoot very well early, but since she’s been focusing on it more in recent weeks the complete package is starting to come together.

Now, the reigning Calhoun County girls high school champion is “really excited” to test it under the forge of tournament fire.

“For some reason I play better under tournament pressure; at the county and substate and state I performed,” she said. “Usually I perform well under pressure than when I out there just playing.”

Williams was just about to turn 16 and start her sophomore year at Alexandria when she played in the County. She said “looking back it was kind of crazy at 15,” but she recalls receiving plenty of support from the guys she was about to compete against. She applauded Dyar’s attempt.

“Not many girls are brave enough to take on that challenge,” said Williams, now the golf coach at Donoho School, “so I think it shows a lot of good things for her. She’s going to do well.”

The tournament gets underway with qualifying for the championship flight Friday. Gary Wigington is the defending champion.

(On the cover: Layne Dyar (center, with cap) listens as her White Plains teammates talk about their round in the County Girls High School Championship earlier this year.)

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