By Thomas Sellers Jr.
What started off as a way to keep busy between school and softball with her dad Arnold and grandfather Jimmy Erwin has grown into the college sport of Anna McIntyre.
The Brighton Lady Cardinal has matured into one of the best golfers in West Tennessee helping her school finish third in the 2014 State Golf Tournament. Now the game Anna adopted four years ago has landed her at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.
McIntyre, a shortstop on the Lady Cardinal Softball team, said she is glad her parents invested in her new passion, the hours of practice and all the rounds of golf.
“It was very hard and difficult,” she said of adjusting from a softball swing. “It took a lot of practice. I saw myself going in softball, not as much with golf. But by my junior year I started to see it in golf. I just started getting a lot better and I know I could still get better.”
McIntyre’s introduction to golf started on the course of the Covington Country Club.
“We would do it on a Sunday afternoon a lot of the time,” Arnold recalled. “That’s how we got started. We thought she would like to be outside because she’s always played softball. She always liked the outdoor weather and even it was something we could do during the winter time on a warm day.”
Those innocent rounds with her dad and grandfather kept getting more and more competitive.
“We saw her pick it up so fast,” Anna’s mother Jill said. “Playing softball for all those years, she didn’t start playing golf until four years ago. It all came so naturally to her. A lot the credit goes to her father. He was the driving force behind her. My father, her grandfather, was another driving force behind her. I owe all the credit to my husband.”
Arnold said he just introduced the game to his daughter. Her natural ability started to shine quickly.
“I could see how she hit the ball — that was the start,” he noted. “She made good contact with the ball. After looking at all of that and she started to beat me, I thought we needed to go a little further. That’s when we got the professional help.”
The professional help came from Rob Akins of Spring Creek Ranch in Collierville. Akins is one of the top ranked swing coaches in America. His work accompanied by the knowledge of Brighton Head Golf Coach Kim Greer kept McIntyre moving in the right direction.
As McIntyre improved, the results for the Lady Cardinals got better. McIntyre first reached State in 2012 as a sophomore.
The next two seasons, McIntyre helped Brighton finish seventh and third respectively. In the 2014 tournament, McIntyre posted two rounds of 85. Her teammate Aubree Jones won her second straight State individual crown.
“She’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Greer said of McIntyre. “She plays fast. She doesn’t mess around. She’s focused. She likes to win.
“Of course we had Aubree Jones come in and she’s won the State championship the past two years,” he added. “If I remember correctly, Anna’s first year she would shoot over 100. She went from 100 to shooting 85 at the State championship. That made the difference.”
Greer said the major difference in McIntyre’s game on the links was Arnold and Jill.
“The key is her parents,” he said. “She has fantastic parents who support her. As a golf coach, we try to help as much as we can. But the key is the outside help. They went to certified PGA pros. And they practice and they practice.
“She also played on the national junior tour that’s here in Memphis,” Greer continued. “She saw various golf courses and competition. Playing with other girls, she’s learned the game. Playing with Aubree Jones helped her tremendously. That’s some of the reasons why she has improved.”
Anna improved enough to attract colleges at all levels to her golfing skills.
“It didn’t hit us until this year,” Jill said. “To be honest, I never really even thought about it. Until we were approached by colleges out there when they were playing school golf, that’s when it hit us. ‘Oh she’s going to be able to play.’ That’s when we really started investing and taking advice from other people to get her on that road. It has paid off.”
As her signing day ceremony wrapped up in the Brighton Gymnasium, Anna’s hard work was rewarded with photos, cake and plenty of congratulations. And the man who took his daughter out for a relaxing hobby fought back tears of pride.
“It makes me feel good and I’m really proud of her,” Arnold concluded.