MELBOURNE — If there ever was a young boys’ network, Summer Johns blew the lid off it years ago when her high school varsity golf career began.
During the senior season she recently completed, Johns played yet again for the Merritt Island Christian boys team. As a ninth- and 10th-grader, she had been the No. 3 player on the Cougars roster. By 2012, she was at the head of the squad, even playing from the men’s tees.
“She enjoys playing against the guys,” coach Steve Ford said. “She’s very competitive. I think it’s good for her.”
Johns has been good for MIC golf, and she finishes her career as FLORIDA TODAY’s Girls Golfer of the Year.
MORE: First and Second Teams
Johns stumbled naturally upon both her competitive nature and her enjoyment of playing against the boys, which she does only because the school doesn’t have enough interested players to field a girls team. It was her grandfather, Dale Wright, who got her into the sport.
“I think it was watching him play and watching how he hit the ball,” she said. “We had a bonding playing golf.”
It has worked out for her. So did a new piece of equipment she got this season. A new driver added 20 yards to her distance — now around 215 to 220 yards. Ford also credited other strengths for a strong 2012.
MORE: USA TODAY HSS Brevard
“She’s very even-tempered, great attitude,” Ford said. “She drives it pretty straight off the tee, and she’s started hitting it further off the tee.”
In the Class 1A, District 12 tournament at Suntree, she shot a 76 but finished behind talented Melbourne Central Catholic sophomore Marisa Boccabella after a penalty was assessed to Johns’ score.
Matches against the boys are probably finished for Johns as she considers possibly beginning a college golf career, but there are always rounds against her grandfather. And, yes, she can beat him now.
Looking back, Johns remembers when opposing boys coaches started insisting she play from the men’s tees.
“It was kind of like they were getting scared of me,” she said. “It was nice.”