MOORHEAD — Moorhead Park Christian senior Emily Doeden lives right off the No. 2 green on the par-3 executive course at the Fargo Country Club, so she's seconds away from working on sharpening her golf game.
Doeden often finds herself on the course in the evening during spring and summer, even if it is for a half hour here or there.
“I am able to come out here really whenever I want, which is such a huge blessing to me," Doeden said during team practice late last week.
That extra work has paid dividends for Doeden as she nears the end of her high school career. A finalist for the Ms. Minnesota Golf award, she enters the Class 1A state tournament as one of the top golfers in the the field. The Class 1A event starts Tuesday, June 11, at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker and concludes Wednesday.
“My goal is to hit every shot to the best of my ability," Doeden said. "I know that if I can play well, I have a chance to win.”
Doeden has the No. 2-ranked scoring average in Class 1A entering her final prep tournament, averaging 78.25 strokes per round. Lac qui Parle Valley junior Rachel Halvorson has the best scoring average at 77.10.
Doeden finished tied for third at state last season and was tied for second as a sophomore. Park Christian head coach Dan Doeden, Emily's father, knows his oldest daughter has high aspirations for her fifth and final state tournament. That includes competing for an individual championship.
“As a coach, I don’t really know it’s a goal of hers," Dan Doeden said with a laugh. "As a dad, I know it’s a goal of hers. I know what she’s thinking. I’m not trying to put any pressure on them.”
The Falcons return a veteran team that has four seniors in its top six players. Emily Doeden and fellow seniors Amy Jacobson (84.75 scoring average), Grace Heinen (92.75) and Amanda Strom (91.00) are team veterans along with sophomore Emily Stueland (89.25) and freshman Madison Doeden (94.25), Emily's younger sister.
Dan Doeden said the team's depth is a strength. All six Falcons ranked in the top 20 of reported Class 1A scoring averages heading into the state tournament. Park Christian had three different players take first place at conference meets this season, including Emily Doeden, Jacobson and Stueland.
“It speaks to the level of depth that we have," Dan Doeden said.
The Falcons finished third as a team at the state tournament last season.
"We are confident in who we are," Jacobson said. "We all can have a really good day. ... We want to end on a good note. That can make us kind of nervous, but it's also very exciting. We have a chance to do well. I hope we do."
Red Wing's Leah Herzog was named Ms. Minnesota Golf on Sunday night at a banquet at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence.
Doeden was one of eight finalists up for consideration for the award, which is given to the state's top senior. She has committed to play women's golf at Colorado Christian University, an NCAA Division II school in Lakewood, Colo.
"It's so cool," Jacobson said of Emily Doeden being a Ms. Minnesota Golf finalist. "I'm so proud of her. She's determined to practice a lot. She wants to do well and she will do what she needs to do to play her best. It's encouraging to see someone that determined."
Emily said her love for golf took off after she made the state tournament as a eighth-grader.
“I finally realized this is what I want to do and I have a passion for this. That’s when it started," Emily said. “I liked the pressure of it. I liked knowing that I had a challenge and I wanted to be able to meet that challenge. I think looking back at it, that’s what fueled the passion."
The family also moving to a home on the Fargo Country Club executive course prior to her seventh grade year in school also helped. Emily said there is plenty of golf-related family time that includes her youngest brother Tanner and her mom Tammy. Emily said her mom usually serves as the caddie.
“It helps to have my whole family be a golf family," Emily said. "Our free nights are, 'Hey let’s go have a contest on the par-3 (course).'"
Emily said having her dad as her coach has helped grow her game the most.
"He's been really encouraging so that's been really helpful," Emily said. "I know that my identity to him is not found in what I shoot. To know that and to know that he's encouraging me along the way has been awesome."