On Sept. 15, Emma Kerr shot a 63 during a Women’s Thumb Independent League jamboree at Heather Hills.
At that point, the Capac senior was searching for answers in a golf game that had been so good not long before. So she went out and found them herself.
“That was the day I hit rock bottom,” Kerr said. “I’m more willing to admit it now, seeing how I’ve come back and made it to state after that, as unlike as it seemed at the time. I knew I couldn’t give up because I did not want to go out like that. I knew if I worked hard enough and tried hard enough I could fix it.
“I was like, ‘OK, I’m not going home, I’m going straight to the range to fix this.’ I went to the range at Holly Meadows, got a few buckets of balls and kept hitting until I figured it out.”
Kerr fixed the glitch in her swing, and finished the season strong, winning the St. Clair County Championship and finishing high enough in the regional to qualify for Friday and Saturday’s Division 4 state tournament at Forest Akers East on the campus of Michigan State University.
Kerr is one of three area players who will be playing in the state tournament, as Armada’s Gabriella Locke and St. Clair’s Kara Likins – both sophomores – qualified for the Division 3 tournament at Forest Akers West.
Locke and Kerr are making their first state finals appearance while Likins is making her second straight.
Kerr is Capac’s first state qualifier, something she just learned on Tuesday.
“I’m very honored,” she said. “That’s awesome.”
Capac has had a girls golf team since 2007 and included among its alumni is Kerr’s sister, Erin, who now plays for Oakland University.
“She helps me so much, she’s kind of like my mini teacher,” Kerr said of her older sister. “When there’s a problem that pops up, she can do a small fix that makes it better. She’ll have me caddy for her for some of her tournaments. It’s really nice to be able to walk around and just watch how they do it. In the summer tournaments that I did my best in, it was because it was a few days after I caddied for Erin.”
It was Erin’s move to golf that pushed Emma to the sport in the summer before her eighth-grade year. She’s been a four-year member of the Capac program.
“She’s a great gal, I love her to death,” Capac coach John Hollenbeck said. “She’s very easy to coach and help out. She does anything you ask her to do – and she’ll try it.
“I don’t know if she was playing too much golf, but (the midseason dip) was a mind thing, anyway. She plays every day of the week. She loves the game of golf. I told her, ‘Emma, I know you’re strong, and I know you can walk, but you’re going to get tired.’ It’s a good thing she’s got violin lessons (Wednesday) or she’d probably be playing (Thursday).”
Kerr entered the regional with a thought that playing her best game would be good enough for her, whether it led to a trip to state or not. Now that she’s playing on the final weekend of the season, she has the same mindset.
“All of the hard work and all the pain and awful rounds – the sadness of that, it all paid off,” she said. “I know there will be a lot of girls (at state), even more than there were at regionals, who will shoot very well. But I’m not going to go and go for that. I’m going to play my game, and if it works out, great.”
State Golf Tournaments
Friday and Saturday
Division 3 at Forest Akers West (MSU): Kara Likins (St. Clair) and Gabriella Locke (Armada)
Division 4 at Forest Akers East (MSU): Emma Kerr (Capac)