Let’s put it this way: Ariel Witmer could have played two more holes
solo and still won the 2008 Division II girls golf championship. The South Range senior blew away the field by eight strokes. It’s no
wonder she has been named the Ohio Player of the Year in her
Let’s put it this way: Ariel Witmer could have played two more holes solo and still won the 2008 Division II girls golf championship.
The South Range senior blew away the field by eight strokes. It’s no wonder she has been named the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Magazine Player of the Year in her sport.
Witmer shot a 1-under-par 139 during the two-day state tournament, which featured a Division II girls event for the first time. She remained steady throughout, recording just two bogeys in the first round and one double-bogey in the second and even registering successive eagles on the Par-5 15th hole.
“At state I pretty much had it all together,” says Witmer, thereby putting in her nomination for Understatement of the Year. “Everything went according to plan.”
That couldn’t be said in previous seasons. Witmer didn’t even qualify for the state tournament last season and didn’t finish higher than seventh as a freshman or sophomore.
South Range coach Bob Ferranti recalls receiving speaking to a stranger quite a while ago. It was Witmer’s dad.
“Yeah, her father contacted me several years before Arien got into high school,” Ferranti recalls. “He said his daughter had a great golf swing, but then fathers tend to say that. But when she came up, I had her at No. 3 for about three months as a freshman before moving her up to No. 1. She’s been playing in that No. 1 group ever since.”
And that’s on the boys team. South Range doesn’t have a girls team of its own, so Witmer competes against the boys and must hit from the boys tees during regular season competition.
The 17-year-old Witmer admits, however, that the challenge of slamming the ball from farther away becomes beneficial once the tournaments roll around, particularly on those challenging Par 5 holes.
“It’s a big advantage for me because in the tournament we’re required to hit shorter distances and I’m a long-ball hitter,” she explains.
Long-ball, short-ball – it didn’t really matter. Witmer simply dismantled the competition, which proved delightfully satisfying. She felt the need to emerge victorious in her last opportunity, but the lopsided nature of that triumph came as a bit of a surprise.
“Since I’m a senior, I knew this was the last chance I had to win it, so I was going to give it 110 percent,” says Witmer, who also plays trombone in the school band. “I knew the competition and I knew that if I started strong, it would be the other girls falling apart and not me. I played most of the girls at the tournament over the summer. I knew how they played and how I had to play to beat them.”
Witmer didn’t shout out her plans or brag from the rooftops. It’s just not her style, but Ferranti understood her desire to go out on top.
“Ariel is a quiet girl, but she’s also very intense and very excited about golf,” he says. “She really enjoys being out on the golf course.
“The thing about Ariel is that she has just a beautiful swing. Its very remindful of what you see from players in the LPGA, where you don’t see any stress and strain in the swing. And she has learned over her time here to manage the golf course. She knows she has to take a bogey once in a while and just to be satisfied with that.”
She didn’t take too many bogeys on the Columbus Gray Course, but then, she didn’t have to.
“She was ready to play,” Ferranti says. “On the practice tee, it was liking watching the pros. She kept hitting it in the same place, then she grabbed another club and did the same thing. She was focused and in control the entire time.”
Witmer will soon enjoy the opportunity to be focused and in control at the next level. She earned a scholarship to Division I Longwood University in Virginia. She was searching for an ideal combination of Division I competition and an unimposing campus and she found one.
“They have a very good golf team and the campus is really small,” says Witmer, who is considering a career in biology, but admits those plans could change with time. “That’s what I was looking for. I hate big schools and Longwood has only about 5,000 students.”
As for being named Player of the Year by Ohio High Magazine?
“Boy, that makes me feel good,” she says. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”
When you beat the field by eight strokes, you probably should be.