HUDSON — A lot of things have been going extremely well for Jenn David.
The Hudson senior has been treating a fickle sport like golf as if it’s a walk in the park for quite some time.
Thanks to her success on the course, she recently guided the Explorers to the Suburban League National Conference title.
But David’s wide smiles and infectious enthusiasm have been quite an effective disguise of what’s really happening.
David recently lost one of the best friends she ever had. Her great aunt, Adele Joy Herzog, recently passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at age 64.
"We were definitely very close," David said. "I grew up across the street from her."
Despite her passing, Herzog is still very much a part of David’s life. And when the senior takes a step on the golf course for the final time as a Hudson player, she plans to dedicate her match to her beloved relative.
Let’s just say her great aunt would be proud.
That’s because David is the first three-time individual state qualifier for girls golf in school history.
That became official when the senior shot a 76 during a Division I district competition Tuesday at the Legends of Massillon.
David finished in a tie for fifth place. North Canton Hoover senior Madison Ardelean placed first out of 101 golfers with a score of 74.
The top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state competition, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 19 and 20 at The Ohio State University's Gray Course in Columbus.
"It was just a relief," David said. "It’s fun because the three other individuals who qualified, Paighton Masterson (Avon Lake), Secilia Ho (Wadsworth) and Averi Hanna (Lodi Cloverleaf), are three of my best friends. It’s nice to see us all go."
Pardon David if she wasn’t jumping for joy when her name was announced as a state qualifier.
Besides the fact that she is still mourning the loss of a loved one, David also was one of the first players to finish her round.
Since several other players still had to complete their rounds, David had the torturous task of waiting for nearly four hours before all of the final scores were tabulated.
"We had a little tailgate party," she said. "That helped calm me down. I got done at 2 p.m. and I didn’t leave until 6."
The tailgate party died down after an hour. And all David could do was watch helplessly as other players tried to put the ball in the hole as quickly as possible.
"My mom and I, (Hudson senior teammate) Meaghan Grant and Mrs. Grant started watching the scores come in," David said.
David felt more confident as the players finished their rounds - sort of. The Legends has humbled many superior golfers over the years and preposterously low scores appeared to be nonexistent.
"I was asking around," David said. "I asked what this person was doing and what that person was doing. There wasn’t very many low scores. I knew I definitely had a chance. I just waited and hoped."
David, thanks to her ability to drive the ball a country mile, has a knack for making her presence known by getting birdies in bunches.
However, since the course in Massillon was particularly unforgiving Tuesday, saving par and avoiding big numbers was the name of the game.
"Jenn is the type of player who makes a lot of birdies and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes," Explorers’ second-year head coach J.T. Goodson said. "She wasn’t scoring like she normally did. She’s used to playing faster greens."
David shot 3-over par on the front nine, so minimizing her mistakes and making no worse than par was absolutely critical for her down the stretch.
"I had a lot of pars and pulled it together," David said. "I finished the last four holes with pars."
In the end, David could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that she accomplished her mission.
Unfortunately, David will be Hudson’s lone representative at the state capital for the third consecutive year.
The Explorers finished 11th out of 18 teams with a score of 362. The top four teams qualified for the state tournament.
Nonetheless, Hudson had great success as a team throughout the fall season. The Explorers won both the Suburban League National Conference preseason and postseason titles and also finished 7-0 in National Conference matches.
"I’m very proud of my team," David said. "Our big goal was to make it out to districts as a team."
Oddly enough, David, who has racked up her share of wins as an Explorer over the years, was surprisingly off her game during the sectional competition the previous week.
David shot an alarming 84 at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club. She still would have advanced as an individual to the district tournament, but the fact David’s teammates picked her up was a sight to behold for the three-time state qualifier.
"I was pretty confident about my team," David said. "Meaghan was doing really well. I was kind of hoping they would pull through. I was happy we pulled it out."
It turns out David’s high score at the sectional competition was a bit skewed by a hole or two.
"I was two under through seven holes and then I had a high number on eight, which was the 17th hole," David said. "After that, I just kind of laughed about it. There was nothing I could do at that point."
David plans to play golf for another team in the future. She recently made a verbal commitment to continue her academic and golfing careers at the University of Akron, which is led by head coach Jenny King.
"Three or four schools heavily recruited me," David said. "I narrowed it down to three. When I visited Akron a second time, it was a fairly easy choice. I absolutely loved my teammates, the school, the campus ... everything about it."
David recently had the round of her life.
She shot a school-record 29 in a nine-hole match during Hudson’s 169-190 victory over conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls last month at Ellsworth.
"I was six-under par after 12 holes at the Medina Tournament last year," David said. "And then I bogeyed the last three holes."
David also led the team with a 38 during the Explorers’ 188-210 victory over host Wadsworth in a conference match Sept. 19 at Rawiga Country Club.
The fact David put up an impressive score was rather remarkable. That’s because her great aunt passed away the day of the match.
"Around that time when I shot my 29, the fact that I had a lot mind took my mind off golf," David said. "It allowed me to play freely."
Such an approach may be needed when she plays on the ultimate stage next week. David finished 24th at the state tournament last year after finishing 34th as a sophomore.
"The ultimate goal is to win," David said. "I definitely want to get All-Ohio."
David has quite an impressive duo in her corner. She gets plenty of tips from former Hudson head girls golf coach Doug Snelling and her swing coach is former British Open champion Ben Curtis.
Of course, since she is so unbelievably gifted on the golf course, it’s a safe bet David could succeed with anyone as her coach.
Such a fact is something Goodson fully embraces when it comes to his star pupil.
"She knows what she needs to do," Goodson said. "I just let her do her thing."
The end of the road has been a bittersweet one for the talented senior.
Not only is David’s high school career coming to an end, she also won’t get to play with her best friends in competitive matches any more.
That special group includes Grant, who David first met when the two standout golfers were in eighth grade.
"We have been playing together since freshman year," David said. "We have become really close. Meaghan will always be by my side."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.