The Ozarks have enjoyed a rich history in the sport of golf, and most aficionados of the sport know the names of Horton Smith and Payne Stewart.
At the high school level, the game has had a number of wonderful storylines. Among them was one based in the heart of Springfield.
The story goes that Glendale High School launched a girls golf program in the mid-1970s – and it became the first powerhouse in the Missouri State High School Activities Association, or MSHSAA.
And it’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted the Glendale High School Girls Golf Era of 1976-1980 with the Class of 2023.
MSHSAA hosted the inaugural state girls golf tournament in 1975. Coached by Bob Lechner, the era of 1976 to 1980 saw Glendale earn five state trophies, including a three-peat of state championships in 1977, 1978 and 1979.
It all started with a state runner-up finish in 1976, and ended with a third-place showing in 1980.
Most of the golfers learned the game at nearby Hickory Hills Country Club, with golf pro Sam Reynolds teaching many of them the game.
The 1977 team edged Marshall by one stroke. The 1978 team held off Parkway Central by 35 strokes, and the 1979 team was 38 strokes better than Cape Central High School. The 1980 team came within 11 strokes of winning it all.
The teams featured future LPGA standout Cathy Reynolds (MSHOF 2015) and an eventual top competitor in the Missouri Women’s Amateur in Stephany Jackson Powell (MSHOF 2022).
“I think we were all very fortunate that several of the team members were members of Hickory Hills,” Powell said. “Cathy Reynolds, a 1975 graduate of Glendale, was the daughter of Sam Reynolds, the head pro.
“I think it was a bonus for us that we could be together outside of school hours to work on our game. It also helped that most of our parents and, in my particular case, a grandfather that lived and breathed the game, played as well.”
The 1976 team included Susie Hawkins Turner, Linda Davis McClung, Stephany Jackson Powell, Vickie Reynolds Martin, Kathy Knez Trau, Robin Osbern, Janelle Latimer Rogers and Debbie Reese Rogers.
The 1977 team consisted of Rogers, Martin, Trau, Nancy Patterson, Kelly H’Doubler Crowder, Dorlece Kimball Mills, Carrie Williams Lewis, Julie Glass Carter and Powell.
The 1978 team carried Patterson, Lewis, Powell, Laura Johnson, Mills, Williams, Martin, Cary Whitlock Davidson and Ginny Shaw Newman.
The 1979 team that played at state featured Martin, Carrie Williams, Patterson and Dorlece Kembel. Martin tied for first but lost in a playoff in 1978 and 1979.
The 1980 team included Madelyn Cunningham, Patterson, Williams and Jamie Allison.
“We were a tight knit group,” Powell said. “We had practice at Horton Smith or Grandview, now the Bill and Payne Stewart Course. We would carpool to meets, play and go to Sonic. Back then, no spectators were allowed on the golf course, meaning the coaches, the parents, or any other spectators.”
Sam Reynolds was the golf pro for 38 years at Hickory Hills.
“My dad, he was tough, and rightfully so,” Cathy Reynolds said. “He knew what it was going to take to be out there. He had the whip out quite a bit. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did.”
He wasn’t the only helpful coach. Another was Bruce Hollowell (MSHOF 2021), who later enjoyed success as a coach at Missouri State.
“I would say that we were the dominant team during the 76 to 80 years,” Powell said. “I’m pretty sure we were Ozark conference, SMSU Relay and district champions nearly every year. I remember going back to school after we won state the first time and they announced it over the intercom. You could hear the whole school cheer and getting high fives in the hall between classes from classmates.”
What an era it was.
“Looking back, I realize what a big accomplishment it was and is,” Powell said, “and just how hard it is to win a state championship, let alone three in a row.”
Martin remembers the internal competition.
“When you went to state back then, you could only take the top four, Martin said. “So the third, fourth and fifth golfers were always competing for a spot.”
To many from this era, the banners in Glendale’s gym are nice to see, especially about any golf success since.
“There have been some good years,” Martin said. “It’s still been a strong success.”