Morgan Beaulieu star in the making at Tohopekaliga High

Tohopekaliga High School sophomore Morgan Beaulieu works on her putting stroke on the practice greens at Royal St. Cloud Golf Course.

“You swing Like a girl.”

Although mostly considered an adolescent athletic taunt, most golfers – whether they are boys, girls, men or women – probably wish they could swing a club like talented Tohopekaliga High School sophomore Morgan Beaulieu.

“She’s the best player on my girls’ team and she’s the best player on my boys’ team,” Tigers head coach Bobby Muzeka says. “Whether she is playing from the boys or girls tees, she is always a threat to shoot around even par. I think she would easily earn All-Conference in the boys’ tournament or could – depending on the course – even compete to win it.”

As a freshman, Beaulieu played a few dual meet matches on the boys’ team because Toho did not have enough golfers to field a girls’ team. But when the conference tournament came, she played in the girls’ tournament as an individual, winning the Orange Belt Conference Championship by close to a double digit margin. She would later compete in the district tournament as an individual where she advanced to regionals—falling just three shots short of earning a spot in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s state tournament.

“It really came down to one hole where she blew up a little bit,” Muzeka noted. “She showed a lot of fortitude in recovering but came up just short.”

Not knowing if he would have enough players to field a scoring boys’ team in 2019 (in order to post a score a high school team must have at least four players), Muzeka considered playing Morgan exclusively on the boys’ team – at least through the conference tournament. And while that is still a possibility, Toho currently has enough players to field a team on both sides.

About the only reason I think we would consider playing Morgan in the OBC boys’ tournament is for the competition.

She won the OBC girls’ tournament by about 10 strokes last year. Obviously when you play against better players, it helps with your focus and would get her more ready for districts and regionals,” Muzeka noted. “But no decision has been reached yet. We may play her in few matches against the guys before the OBC Tournament before making a final decision.”

Beaulieu said, “It doesn’t matter whether I play against the boys or girls, I just love playing golf period. For the most part playing against boys last year really wasn’t any problem. Sometimes I would hear a rude comment or two, but most of the guys were pretty cool about it.  When it comes right down to it, almost all golfers respect the game and respect their opponents. We are all just competing against the course and trying to get better.”

In a Sept. 11 match at Royal St. Cloud, Morgan shot an 11-over 83 on an extremely windy day – edging St. Cloud senior Kierstyn Kelly, who shot 88. Kelly, her teammate Brandy Bibeau, Celebration’s Erin Oyzurek, and Beaulieu are considered the four best high school girl players in the county and would be considered as the contenders to win the Orange Belt Conference Championship scheduled for Oct. 7 at Royal St. Cloud.

“I don’t think Kierstyn or I played nearly as well as we are capable of playing that day,” Beaulieu said after the match. “It’s still early in the season and I know we will all get better by the conference tournament.”

Beaulieu, who says she has been playing golf since she was 4 years old, noted that her short game and her putting are the strengths of her game.

That was evident in that Sept. 11 match, when she came up 15 yards short on the par 3, 17th hole and calmly chipped the ball to 2 feet for an easy par.

Her drive on 18 caught a heavy gust of wind and found the water, forcing her to take a drop in some gnarly, thick rough.

She came up 25 yards short of the green on her approach, but hit a beautiful flop shot to within 6 feet and dropped the putt to save bogey.

When it came time to describe what they felt would be needed for Beaulieu to take the next step in improving, both Morgan and Muzeka where on the same page.  “When you play longer courses, the ability to hit longer drives becomes more important,” Beaulieu noted.  “Getting stronger and being able to hit the ball farther is a priority for me.”