Vest set for Bobcat finale

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Marshalltown High School graduate Kassy Vest poses for a photo on the first tee at Elmwood Country Club in the days leading up to the Class 4A Girls’ State Golf Tournament. Vest has qualified for state for the second year in a row.

The only hometown qualifier isn’t counting on any home-course advantage.

Marshalltown High School graduate Kassy Vest is prepared to earn everything she gets over the next two days at Elmwood Country Club in the Class 4A Girls’ State Golf Tournament, closing her Bobcat career in hopes of coming in ahead of last year’s result.

Vest took 26th place away from Coldwater Golf Links in Ames to cap her junior campaign, shooting 94-88–182 in her state tournament debut. All she remembers about the experience is the layout of the course and the holes she didn’t play particularly well.

“I picked it up the second day but the first wasn’t good,” she said. “I remember that, not playing very well. But that’s a tough course, I had to give myself some slack.”

At 9 a.m. today, Vest tees off on the 17th hole of a much more familiar course, though not her home track. In fact, she’s certain some of the other 76 state qualifiers in 4A have played Elmwood more than she has.

“I don’t think I have an advantage to anybody really,” Vest said. “I’ve only played it a handful of times. I don’t think I have any advantage, even it being in Marshalltown.

“It’s definitely not going to be handed to me, I’ve got to work for it.”

Vest, who recently signed her National Letter of Intent to golf at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, ranks 11th in 4A individually with an adjusted nine-hole scoring average of 44.25 this season. In her only competitive high school meet at Elmwood this spring, Vest shot a 40 on the front nine.

Today and Wednesday, the state meet qualifiers compete across 36 holes.

“I think playing at the state tournament is always an eye-opening experience for kids just because it feels different from a golf tournament perspective,” said MHS head coach Lucas Johnson. “You approach it a little bit different and it’s 36 holes, so day one is a lot more about positioning than it is about where you’re at in the field.

“Elmwood is a course that I think sets up even better [than Coldwater] for her just because of her length off the tee. A lot of the girls in the field are going to be hitting long irons and hybrids into holes where she’s hitting 7-irons, and that’s going to give her a big advantage. It’s really about getting set up off the tee for her because if she can keep it in play, she is going to put herself in position to make pars and birdies.”

Vest has played in five meets at Elmwood as a Bobcat varsity golfer, though only once each of the last two years. As an MHS freshman, Vest carded rounds of 119 during the Linda Bloom Invitational and a 100 during the regional meet.

“I know it’s not my home course but it’s cool either way, it’s definitely nice to be home,” she said. “My goal is to be top-20 for sure. If I get a medal, that’s just a bonus. If I keep it consistent, there’s a couple [holes] where you can really knock yourself out, but I think if I keep it in play I could get top-10 honestly. That’d be cool, especially being a senior.”

Regardless of where she completes her Bobcat playing days, Vest has gained some swagger as well as plenty of perspective from simply qualifying for state twice.

“It’s definitely a sense of confidence, but when it comes to state I’m not the best player out there,” she said. “Just playing with some of the top girls in the state kind of brings me down a bit, but I have to keep it in the back of my head these are the top girls in the state so I’ve just got to keep up with them. Beyond that it’s just fun, I love golf so it’s just fun to be out here competing doing what I love.”