Anna Margaret Hays wanted to make sure that when she was through with her high school golf career, the Muscle Shoals girls team was in just as good, if not better, shape than when she first teed it up.
Hays certainly did just that. The senior was the only area golfer to average less than 80 per 18 holes, established a new school-record for scoring and her tie for fourth place in the Class 6A girls state tournament was the best finish for a local girls golfer.
For her achievements, Hays is a repeat honoree as the TimesDaily Girls Golfer of the Year.
Hays and the other players of the year will be honored at a June 11 banquet at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum. The overall male and female athletes of the year and the top girls and boys athletic programs will be announced at the banquet. Professional angler and motivational speaker Clay Dyer is the keynote speaker.
Hays, who will play at North Alabama beginning this fall, finished with a 79.0 stroke average and shot 86-74 at the state tournament. She shot a school-record 68 to win the Golden Eagle Invitational at the Canebrake Golf Club in Athens, and her 71 in the sub-state tournament was runner-up.
Hays and the Trojans came up short in their quest to win a third consecutive state title, finishing in third place behind a strong Northridge team and UMS-Wright.
For Hays, though, her senior season was about cementing her legacy.
“I wanted to do my best to leave a legacy and do my best to encourage the younger girls to love the sport and try to get better,” she said.
Hays said she thought she did accomplish what she set out to do.
“I was there when (former Muscle Shoals golfer) Brittany Collins broke the record, and this year I shot 68 and broke her record,” Hays said. “I want to see the girls try to break those records; I want to see them do that.”
During her career, Hays and her outgoing personality became one of the better-known girls players in high school golf. She said it made her proud that other girls looked up to her.
“I was at sectionals, and there was this one girl and she was like ‘I’m playing with Anna Margaret Hays, so I have to do good,’” Hays recalled. “That was such an honor. It made me so happy that I could leave that legacy, not just for the people at Muscle Shoals but people from all over the state.”
For Hays, the appeal of a sport that is often-times seen as boring by those who don’t play, golf offers a variety of lessons that can be used away from the course.
“(Golf) has taught me a lot of things,” she said. “It’s a lot like life. It teaches you in the hard times there are ways for you to get better; and in the good times you have to stay humble. It has taught me things about life that I personally would never have known if I hadn’t played golf. It has taught me that discipline and hard work gets you a long way in life. It has taught me good life values.”
With a busy summer tournament schedule on tap, Hays now has turned her attention to the next phase of her career.
“Playing at UNA is just another step of trying to be the best I can be,” she said. “If I shoot 74, I’m like I could have done better. If I shoot 68, I know I could have done better. I’m always pushing myself to be the best. I did that in high school and I am going to do that in college. I’m excited to get to college. We’re going to have some fun time, grind it out and do pretty well.”