Wade Jewkes, Deseret News
Katherine Ashby, left, and Jennifer Peterson play golf for the Davis Darts.

Girls golf is up and running at Davis High School, and with a roster of 28 girls the Darts look to be one of the most successful programs in the state, at least in terms of participation.

Of course numbers don't always reflect quality, but two players on this team stand near the head of the class in Region 1, and both are virtually newcomers to the sport of golf.

Katherine Ashby, a junior, started playing a little over a year ago and ranks in the Top 5 in the region with a 45-46 average (girls play nine holes). Freshman Jennifer Peterson ranks in the Top 10 and is in a close battle with Ashby for the No. 1 spot on the Darts team.

Ashby's family is entirely new to golf but when she was on vacation last year in California, two uncles took her golfing and kindled her passion for the sport. She enlisted Matt Lyons, director of golf at Valley View for personal lessons and she has blossomed into a long hitter. Lyons remembers the first lesson with her at an inside facility where her balls were popping up and hitting the ceiling and spraying left and right.

After one year, Ashby is progressing nicely. She averages 250-270 yards on her drives.

Peterson also started playing just a year ago but she has family ties to golf with three older brothers who play. One of them, Jake, who is going to the PGA Q school this year and has taken his little sister under his wing with personal, private instruction.

Despite their age differences, Ashby and Peterson have become good friends and have several things in common. Both previously were volleyball players but now concentrate solely on golf. Both are active in extracurricular activities. Peterson is president of the Honor Society and carries a 4.0 GPA. Ashby is vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America and her team recently placed first in state competition. Both list their favorite subject as math and Ashby is taking AP calculus and has a 3.99 GPA.

Peterson also lists her strength as driving and striking the ball well.

"I'm usually on the green in regulation," she said. "I have been working on my putting lately," she added, "and it is improving."

It's refreshing to see athletes perform well in a sport that parents haven't pushed on their kids since the day they could walk. Lyons remarked that in the case of Ashby, where she hadn't had any prior training, he was able to teach her to swing hard, something he said was difficult to do if someone already had played.

Ashby's mother, in explaining that their family had no prior experience in golf said, "We haven't taught her any bad habits."

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