By Carey Phillips

After winning the first conference championship in program history, Smoky Mountain’s women’s golf team will open practice at 4 p.m. today (Thursday) at Sequoyah National Golf Club.

“Everybody is coming back, and we have some new faces,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “Everybody is showing a lot of improvement with their summer work.”

Three players who finished in the top 10 in last year’s Mountain Six Conference Tournament return for the Lady Mustangs.

Leading those returnees is senior Madison Broom, the reigning MSC Player of the Year. She was dominant in the conference tourney, which she won by 16 strokes.

Broom placed 13th in the 2-A Western Regionals and was 22nd in the State 2-A Tournament.

Also back are juniors Autumn Burtt and Allison Macke, who earned all-conference honors by placing in the top 10.

The fourth returnee is junior Maddie Stillwell.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “Our expectations are a little higher, especially in the conference.”

He’s hoping for a better showing in the postseason

“We didn’t have an all-around great showing at regionals.” Melvin said. “I think they have a different mindset this year that they are ready to reach state (as a team).”

The first match will be Aug. 20 at Highlands Country Club.

The first round of the conference tournament is set for Oct. 3 at Connestee Falls Golf Club. The second round will be Oct. 8 at either Springdale Country Club or Maggie Valley Country Club. Both of those rounds will be nine holes.

The third round, which will be played Oct. 10 at Mill Creek Golf Club, will be 18 holes.

The schedule is as follows:

Aug. 20 – at Highlands; 29 – at Crooked Creek.

Sept. 5 – at Mill Creek; 12 – at Mill Creek; 19 – at Sky Valley; 24 – at Highlands; 26 – at Maggie Valley.

Oct. 1 – at Waynesville; 3 – MSC first round at Connestee Falls; 8 – MSC second round at Springdale or Maggie Valley; 10 – MSC third round at Mill Creek.