Golf is one of those sports that doesn’t receive much attention and the local area has a golfer that has had some pretty impressive accomplishments. Victoria Hooker, Waynesville High School’s top female golfer, qualified for state, was all-conference, All-District and a state qualifier.

The Daily Guide sat down with Victoria, a go getter in golf, academics, and life to find out what motivates her and what her plans are for the future.

Victoria has only been playing golf for about four years. Victoria’s perseverance, dedication on and off the golf course, natural talent, a desire to excel, mentors and coaching/lessons from golf pros have made her stand out as this year’s top Waynesville High School female golfer.

Victoria Hooker lived in Richland until 7th grade then moved to Waynesville. She played basketball from second grade through freshman year.

Victoria said,  “It was just something we did.  We all played together and were good.”

Before starting her high school freshman year Victoria started thinking about college and how she  would pay for college.

“Playing basketball in college was not in the picture for me,” Victoria said.

Victoria had a set of golf clubs.  Her Dad and grandfather played golf and were hoping someone else in the family would play.

Victoria started practicing golf the summer before her freshman year, hitting golf balls around to see if she really liked golf and to see if she was really going to be able to dedicate herself to it.  She practiced at the Piney Valley golf course on Fort Leonard Wood and at the Richland Country Club.

Victoria said, “I realized if I was going to be good, I would have to put in a lot of hours of practice to get to the caliber I needed to be.”

Freshman year Victoria decided to play golf.  Victoria told the Daily Guide, “I was automatically thrown into the number one position and I was petrified.  I hadn't even played against anyone yet.  I was playing against girls so much better than me.  I was terrified.   I made a lot of good friends that year and learned a lot of things about golf from playing  with girls that were better than me.  I became really close with the girls on the Springfield, Rolla, and Camdenton golf teams. We had a connection”.

Freshman year Victoria placed in matches but according to Victoria, wasn't quite there yet for tournaments.  Sophomore year Victoria started placing in tournaments. She calls it her “breakout year,”  a taste of what it was like to play tournaments.

Victoria’s  top moment of this year’s girls golf season was qualifying for state.

She had tried for two previous years, but said she came up short, then barely short.

If you qualify for district, sectionals is next, then state.  Each advancement requires qualifying in the previous bracket.  

“Qualifying for state was a feeling I had never experienced before. I had worked so long and  so hard and you only get one chance to qualify each season. It didn't feel real.

The golf community is a  close community and my friends were really happy for me.  I got to play at state, my senior year, with some of my best golfing buddies.”

The Daily Guide asked Victoria who some of her mentors and encouragers are. Kelsey is one of her best friends and played on the Rolla golf team while in high school.  Kelsey Introduced Victoria to summer golf tournaments where Victoria said met a “slew of girls who loved and were as crazy about playing golf as I was.”

Victoria said, “Kelsey is someone in golf I can rely on.  If something is not right with my game or swing we'll go out and play a couple of rounds and I can ask her for her help.”

When Victoria started playing golf as a freshman she said Wade, a senior from the boys golf team, was a good mentor and helped her with her game.  

Her biggest challenge in playing golf has been overcoming the mental game.  She said she lets herself down too quickly. If she knows she has to do certain things at a hole to improve her score or performance, she said she messes up and it affects her next shots. She wants to play a perfect game, but knows golf is not perfect game.

Victoria said Coach Dowell has challenged her to do her best and told the Daily Guide that Coach Dowell coaches because he really loves golf.   Coach has helped Victoria with the mental challenge of the game.

Victoria said, “Coach is all about course management, which is how to play the hole,  not how the course wants you to play.  Don't baby the hole or be too over confident.”

Her Mom bought Victoria books on golf and mental games.  One book is even called “Golf is not a perfect game.”

Taking lessons has helped Victoria  improve her game. When she started playing golf lessons helped her with the basics of what golf is and muscle memory.   

As her skills grew, lessons helped mold her swing.  Victoria said, “ If I was hooking or slicing a shot, I would swing a few lessons with a coach to help me break down a swing and  figure out how to fix it.

Victoria has a 3.67 G.P.A., has been a member of the National Honor Society since sophomore year and is part of the school’s spirit squad. Victoria has her own photography  business. She saved and bought all her equipment with own money.

This past summer she was chosen to be part of Missouri Girls State. During that time Victoria said, “I fell in love with the workings of the government and legal system.”  She was a senator for the entire girls state session and had the opportunity to debate legal issues on the senate floor in Jefferson City.  That's when Victoria decided that she wanted to major in the legal field.

In the fall Victoria will be attending William Woods University where she plans on playing golf while majoring in political and legal studies.  

Victoria picked William Woods because she felt a hominess, felt comfortable and said their golf program is “glorious."   

She also likes the smaller size classes and mock courtroom.

The Daily Guide asked Victoria what she would say to encourage someone thinking about playing Waynesville High School (WHS) golf.

Victoria thought for a moment then commented,  “Golf  is a fun, relaxing, and stress free sport. At  WHS, we get coached on whatever level we’re at in the game at whatever speed.  WHS girls golf is an open team sport.  No tryouts are required. Golf is also easy to manage with school because Coach has academic assistance days so athletes don't get behind. There are also thousands of golf  scholarships that go unused every year. The WHS girls golf team is a  fun, diverse team. There isn't one type of golf type athlete.  We all get to branch  out through each others diversity.”