Woodbury girls golf: A family affairThis year, the Sweeney sisters are each members of the Woodbury girls golf team.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
At the behest of their father Pat, Molly, Maggie and Mary Sweeney began knocking golf balls around when they were roughly 7, 8 and 9 years old, respectively, around the finely cut fairways of Hillcrest Golf Club in St. Paul.
This year, the Sweeney sisters are now each members of the Woodbury girls golf team. When the team teed off for the first time this season, Molly, Maggie and Mary each played the round for the Royals varsity squad — a special moment that was lost on no one.
“When we announced the six that were playing together, it was a big deal,” Woodbury co-head coach Andi Palodichuk said. “They were excited. It was pretty cool.”
Mary Sweeney, 18, is one of Woodbury’s team leaders, a senior co-captain, and the lowest scorer on the Royals. She was also the 2010 Minnesota Junior PGA Player of the Year last summer. Maggie Sweeney, 17, is a junior who has made large strides this season and who has been among the Royals’ top-four scorers in a number of matches. Molly Sweeney, 16, is a sophomore and a volleyball player first-and-foremost, who also cares about the sport of golf and played most matches for the Royals’ JV team.
Woodbury co-head coach Courtney Den Herder said she felt the girls always wanted to play together.
“I know at the end of last season they wanted to work their butts off so they could make up half of the varsity team,” Den Herder said.
The three sisters all said their father Pat Sweeney was influential in getting them started in the game.
“He’d sign us up for camps and help us with our swings,” Maggie said. “We started to like it better when we could hit the ball every time.”
Mary said they each looked back at the early years at Hillcrest fondly.
“We’d go there and hang out at the pool and we just started hitting balls, too,” she said. “Sometimes we’d play a few holes as a family. We were terrible, but we’d always play from up close to the greens so it didn’t really matter. I really didn’t like it until I was about 13.”
Den Herder said the Sweeneys’ parents are “just fantastic.”
“They’re always at the matches supporting the girls and doing whatever they need to do support them and the whole team,” she said.
Den Herder also said each sister is “very unique.”
“Well, two of them are lefties and one is a righty,” Den Herder said. “Personality-wise I’d say Molly and Mary are most similar, but they are all very different.”
Den Herder and Palodichuk both said the Sweeney sisters have at least one thing in common, however — they are fun to work with.
“They’re a blast,” Den Herder said. “They’re always good for a laugh no matter what. They are sweet, kind-hearted and good-natured. They have great senses of humor and are all-around really good girls to work with.”
Somehow, through the years, the girls have managed to get a long well, and have kept any sisterly squabbles away from the golf course.
“It is a lot of fun actually,” Mary said. “Sometimes we have our little fights, but overall we get along. There’s no big arguments, but just little stuff. The car has been kind of an issue.”
The Sweeney sisters have now been playing together for Woodbury for three years. Molly Sweeney said they all try to support each other on and off the course.
“We help each other out a lot and watch each other,” she said. “Everyday at practice we give each other tips and try to help each other. We’d definitely be worse golfers if we weren’t all playing together.”
Palodichuk said the three of them work well together and can easily relate to each other. “They do really help each other,” she said. “I think things Mary learns, she’ll pass along to her sisters and then they will pass it on to the younger girls on the team. It’s been great for the whole team.”
Next year, Mary Sweeney will be playing golf, on a scholarship, a the University of Idaho.
“It’ll be weird next year without Mary on the team,” Palodichuk said. “It’ll be interesting.”
Both coaches said nobody can replace Mary, but who better than her younger sister to try and fill some of the void?
“I think being on varsity at the end of the season, especially, Maggie has seen what Mary has done with the team,” Den Herder said. “Maggie will be a senior next year and will be up for a captain position. I think she’s definitely going to step up.”
Maggie Sweeney said in the future, they’ll probably remember these years fondly.
“I’m sure we’ll look back and talk and laugh about our bad rounds, especially,” Maggie joked. “We’ve had a few of those.”