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Golf: Driving for title – Irion takes aim at 9-4A medal

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 8, 2017
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Ironing It Out

IRIONING IT OUT – Brooke credits her ability to her father and the Golf Channel. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

On the tee box with a driver in her hands, Brooke Irion has always found few peers that could match her distance.

She’s used her ability to outdrive the competition to earn three straight trips to the University Interscholastic League golf championships.

“Ever since I was little when we did drive, chip and putt contests, out of all divisions I would win the drive part,” Irion said. “I could always smack the ball super far.

“It’s the best feeling. When I can get there and hit this ball long and straight 300 yards down the fairway, it puts me in a good mood for that hole. I take every hole one hole at a time. I don’t focus on the round. I focus on each shot. If I can start out with a great tee shot, it puts me in the perfect place to par or birdie.”

DRIVING LONG – Bridgeport’s Brooke Irion has used her driving distance to help her earn three state championship appearances. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In her senior season, Irion has taken her entire game to another level. In five tournaments this year, Irion has won three times.

“This being her senior year and going next year at the next level, her passion for the game has been reinvigorated,” said Bridgeport coach Alan Green.

“I know you don’t want to get into a long drive contest with her. She can really bomb it.”

Monday she starts the effort to bring home the trophy that has eluded her the past three years – the district title. Irion, who will begin play at the 9-4A championships at Robson Ranch Monday, has finished second at district three times, all behind former teammate and Midwestern freshman Lexi Read.

“I want to win district. It’ll be very nice to have that on my collection,” Irion said. “I’ve gotten second place every year in high school, which is a great accomplishment, and we’ve gotten to go to regionals. To get first would feel really nice.”

Since she was 4, Irion has been a fixture at the golf course outside a short window of time in elementary school after her family relocated from rural Nevada to Runaway Bay.

Over the past 14 years, she’s been primarily self-taught, getting her only lessons from her father, Rod, and the Golf Channel.

“He learned everything from the Golf Channel. I never actually had a golf coach,” Irion explained. “Everything he learned he taught me. I kinda went out there and improved myself.

“I’ve never had a formal lesson. I’ve had coaches come up to me and give me tips and stuff, but I never went out and did a lesson. ”

Over the years, she’s learned to push herself and make tweaks to her swing on her own. Her cerebral approach has helped her elevate her game.

“I feel like I do better when I try to fix things on my own,” Irion said. “I’ll ask for help definitely. Coach Green will take videos of me, and we’ll go over it and see where my swing pattern is. But I know that I know my swing the best because I’ve had this swing for 14 years. I know what it should feel like. So when it doesn’t feel right, I can go in and break it down.”

The mental element of golf is what drives Irion along with each shot and score coming down to how she does on the course.

“It’s a mental game. You can go out here an whack hundreds of balls and hit the ball a mile long, but if you can’t stay strong mentally, you’re game isn’t going to be up to par,” Irion said.

“You can never be perfect at golf. It pushes me to be better, but I know I’ll never be perfect and no one ever is.”

Irion has experienced the ups and downs of the sport that can occur from hole to hole. Last year at state, Irion shot rounds of 84 and 83 to finish 18th. As a sophomore, she was 11th at state with rounds of 85 and 78. She was 15th at state as a freshman with a two-round total of 176.

“You can have the perfect round and have one bad hole, and it wrecks it,” Irion said. “To be able come back from that shows you are strong in your mental game, and that will get you somewhere.”

A fourth straight trip to state is a top priority for Irion, who has signed to play golf at Tyler Junior College.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” Irion said. “I’m going to go out and give it my all, go out and play golf and focus on me. Hopefully we’ll make it as a team. If I don’t make it, it’ll make me grow and realize what I need to work on for college golf.”

Taking aim down the fairway, she’s ready to fire away and make the most of this last opportunity.

“I just go out and play my game and enjoy it,” Irion said. “You’re only given so many days to play great golf. I’m going to enjoy every single one.”

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