Mariah Peters makes the game of golf look so easy that one really has to pay attention to detail to realize how special the Blue Springs  freshman really is.

Mariah Peters makes the game of golf look so easy that one really has to pay attention to detail to realize how special the Blue Springs  freshman really is.

“It may look easy,” said Peters, the first Wildcats girls golfer to medal at state, “but it isn’t. The success I had this year came from a lot of hard work.”

Because of weather, the Class 2 state tournament became a one-day, instead of a two-day event, and Peters shot an 82 at the Sedalia Country Club to finish in sixth place.

“I play in a lot of one-day tournaments with the Kansas City Golf Association, so I am used to the pressure of a one-day tournament,”  Peters said. “I want to go to state and win.

“I wouldn’t have been very happy if I hadn’t medaled.”

Peters, who placed second in the Suburban Big Six Conference tournament and won district and sectional titles, is the landslide winner of The Examiner’s Golfer of the Year, as she exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“I met Mariah at the golf course one day during her eighth-grade year,” Wildcats coach Jill Courter said. “Our team was practicing for sectional play, and Mariah was on the driving range with her dad. I saw her and knew she could hit the ball well.

“I also knew she was playing in several tournaments at the national level, even in eighth grade. I hadn’t really seen her play myself so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew she must be pretty solid just because she worked so hard at it. It turned out that she exceeded my expectations as a freshman.”

Peters started playing competitive golf when she was 12.

“But I played a lot of golf before that with my dad, Dan,” Peters said. “My first clubs were the little plastic toy clubs. Then my dad cut down some clubs for me. It seems like I’ve been playing golf for about as long and I can remember.”

Extreme confidence and a love of the game helped her handle the pressure that comes from bursting onto the sports scene as a 15-year-old.

“I’m sure Mariah felt a lot of pressure at state,” Courter said, “but you wouldn’t have known it by talking to her. She’s got a really level head about her, and is very mature when it comes to handling pressure and dealing with the mental aspect of this game. I think that’s one of her biggest strengths as a player. Also, the (amateur) tournaments that she has played in have really prepared her for big competitions like our state tournament.”

Peters just returned from Florida where she competed in the Optimist International Tournament of Champions. She won the district Optimist Tournament to qualify for the national event.

“I love to play year-round,” Peters said. “The tournament in Florida was the last tournament of the season, but I’ll keep practicing and working on my game.”

That’s how champions – and Examiner Players of the Year – are made.

 “She’s always seeking ways to improve her game,” Courter said, “and she works extremely hard to do that. I’m thrilled for Mariah and I think she deserves every honor that she gets. She is an unselfish leader, and a positive example for not only girls on our team, but for any female golfer.

“As coaches, we try so hard to get our high school girls to understand the importance of practicing and working hard in the offseason. Mariah is a true example of what happens when you do those things. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with her and be a part of her life as she continues her golfing career.”

And how does Peters feel about being named the top golfer in Eastern Jackson County?

“It’s a real honor,” she said, “especially since I am a freshman. It just means I’m going to keep working hard so I can have a lot more success at every level of play.”