Barto resident and Perkiomen School student Minuette Laessig is spending her days this summer practicing her game and competing in golf tournaments around the country.
For most of the current golf season, Minuette Laessig has focused on adding length to her drives. Increasing club head speed on her tee shots has been a priority.
She has also been working on incorporating a slight draw that has proven to add 15 yards.
However, Laessig said the minor adjustment has altered the mechanics of her swing.
"Everything has changed, which makes it more difficult to hit the ball straight," she said.
Distance off the tee is the main concern for the diminutive 16-year-old, who averages 230 yards.
A member of the Philadelphia Junior Tour, the 5-foot-4 Laessig has relied on an effective short game to post three top-eight finishes in tournament play this summer.
Laessig, a Barto resident who will be a junior at Perkiomen School in the fall, will compete this week in the AJGA Philadelphia Junior Tournament at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
Pete Dougherty, coach of Perkiomen School's golf team, describes her swing as incredibly fluid. "It's amazing how far back her club goes and how far it goes forward in the follow through," Dougherty said. "Minuette is incredibly limber."
Since entering a junior league at Sweet Water Golf Course at the age of 10, she has competed in numerous tournaments. Laessig has played such notable courses as TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Verde, Fla; Waldorf Astoria in Orlando and Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Cal.
"Minuette needs to get her name out there," Dougherty said. "She has to be seen. She has a tremendously bright future, and will probably reap some nice rewards in the near future."
Laessig says her best round came in June when she qualified for the Callaway Golf Junior World Golf Championships. She fired a two-over 74 at Schuykill Country Club in Orwigsburg. "My front nine wasn't extraordinary or anything," Laessig said. "But on the back nine I kept hitting darts."
According to Laessig, who competes in the Philadelphia PGA and the Golf Association of the Lehigh Valley, the summer tournament participation is intended to help her earn a college scholarship. She said coaches prefer international players over Americans because of their superior work ethic. "College golf is so competitive," Laessig said.
According to Dougherty, Laessig is expected to become the Panthers' number one player this fall. The coach said he expects her scores, typically around 40 strokes in a nine-hole match, to go down this season. "This is a big year for me," Laessig said, explaining that college coaches are permitted to contact her by email in September.
Laessig has a tremendous relationship with her male teammates, according to Doughtery."They treat her like a sister," the coach said. "They look out for her like, even though she can beat all of them on the golf course."
Thomas Laessig said her daughter displayed an aptitude for the game the first time they practiced together in the back yard of the family home nine years ago. "She grabbed a club and started swinging," Thomas Laessig said. "It looked okay." Later that day, Thomas Laessig took his daughter to Butter Valley Golf Port with the intent of playing nine holes. He said they finished the round, with Minuette completing all 18 from tee to green. "I was just amazed," Thomas Laessig said.
During the summer, Minuette Laessig spends most of her day at the golf course. From 9 to 11 a.m. she works on different shots on the practice tee, then returns after lunch to play between five and nine holes. "In between there is video analysis, strength training and running," said Minuette, who also works at the course's snack shop.
According to Minuette, mastering golf's mental challenges have been the most difficult.
"You've got to be imaginative when it comes to shots and not worry about the outcome," she said. "If you think three shots ahead, that's three shots too far."