At 18 years of age, Sydney Wirebaugh doesn’t owe many debts.
But she does owe one, at least, to the game of golf.
“The game of golf, it’s taught me a lot,” Wirebaugh said.
The Aberdeen Central senior has finished in the top five in the Class AA state tournament each of the past two seasons, helping the Golden Eagles to a top three finish in the team standings in the process.
And while the success is important — it would be unwise to suggest otherwise to a Golden Eagle squad that has enjoyed much of it lately — the lessons it has imparted to Wirebaugh extend beyond the course.
“You get the honesty, you get the integrity, you get the responsibility, you get all the life lessons you want from golf,” Wirebaugh said. “But the biggest thing I’ve learned is you have to be humble. You can’t be proud.”
Those are some steep words from an 18-year-old who has seen her share of success, but Wirebaugh points to the game’s highest stage, the PGA Tour, as evidence to back up her claim.
“Look at Sergio Garcia,” she said. “He’s playing in the Master’s, and he just took a 13 on a par 5 (Thursday).”
Wirebaugh hopes to translate three season’s worth of learning into one final run at success this spring. Wirebaugh, one of just two underclassmen in last year’s top four finishers, is looking for top-end finishes both individually and for her team.
“This year, I think I’m just ready to be aggressive,” she said. “The past couple years, I just went and played. Now I really need to work for it. The practice really needs to pay off. This winter, I’ve grown a lot, and I’ve realized I need to be aggressive.”
Still, sometimes aggressiveness takes patience, and winter’s lingering grip on the South Dakota prairies — and golf courses — is teaching that.
Wirebaugh, for her part, is using the test to her advantage.
“I want to get going so bad,” she said. “But I’m approaching it as it’s going to come. It’s going to be here. You just have to be patient.”
Wirebaugh said she sees the waiting as an opportunity to become stronger mentally, which she hopes translates to even more success once spring does arrive.
“We’re doing the best we can do,” she said. “So once we beat (other teams), it’s going to be that much sweeter.”
Adding to the anticipation of the season is a rare chance at home-course advantage for the state tournament. The Class AA event is scheduled for June 4-5 at Moccasin Creek Country Club.
“I want to make as many memories as I can with this team,” Wirebaugh said. “We’ve been together since we were freshmen.”
Wirebaugh and the Golden Eagles are scheduled to begin the season Thursday at the Harrisburg Invitational.