Redmond High’s girls golf team got a boost from a player from Oklahoma this season — one the Panthers hop can lead them to the state tournament.

Junior transfer Tabitha Carson was Redmond’s No. 1 golfer, as of April 11, coach Jeff Roundtree said. She can shoot solidly in the 80s and has an “incredible short game.”

“She’s gonna be one of the better golfers in the state her senior year,” the coach said.

Carson joins a group that already includes team captain Elizabeth Roundtree, a four-year letter winner and the Panthers’ low scorer at the 2018 district tournament, and sophomore McKenzie Richardson.

Because of heavy snow, the Panthers didn’t get to hit off grass until a March 19 tournament in The Dalles, and they weren’t able to practice at Juniper Golf Course until nearly the end of March, a month after practice was supposed to start. Still, their coach said they are on the right track.

“They’re playing very well,” said Jeff Roundtree, Elizabeth’s father. “They need some course time, but by the time district rolls round, they’ll be on top or right there at No. 2.”

Like all other Central Oregon teams the snow forced th golf team indoors for practice. That meant hitting foam rubber balls and putting down hallways at Elton Gregory Middle School.

But the coach said they were able to learn fundamentals they don’t normally get on the course. He liked it so much they plan to spend part of practice indoors in 2020.

“Maybe for a week or so to let them get to know each other and play some different games,” he said.

While he hopes the Panthers can qualify, Jeff Roundtree is working to see an increase over the six girls teams that currently qualify for the Class 5A state tournament.

“It’s all about promoting and growing the sport,” he said. “If we slide backward, it’s really hurting our cause. The girls should have the same opportunity for scholarships and things like that.”

Other top players for Redmond include freshman Mae Doty and sophomore Klanci Hinton, who the coach said has grown since she started playing a year ago.

“She’s going to be shooting in the 90s before too long,” Jeff Roundtree said of Hinton. “She’s one of those kids you can just show her to do something and she just mimics it.”

Carson is enjoying playing in a more mountainous environment than she was used to in Oklahoma and Kansas.

“It’s definitely different,” she said. “The weather is crazier there — it’s windy, sunny, tornadoes.”

Elizabeth Roundtree plans to attend Central Oregon Community College for a year before trying to play college golf. But she looks for a solid season to end high school.

“We’re all in, like, the low 100s right now,” she said. “Once we kick off the dirt, we have a really good chance to do well.”

The comment came before Roundtree shot 93 at an April 15 tournament at Meadow Lakes in Prineville, where she shot 93, the third-lowest individual score at the event. The Panthers shot 423 overall, which put them behind IMC rivals Pendleton and Ridgeview.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

22970927