LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the last few years, Lakewood Ranch's athletic program has enjoyed so much success that the Mustangs haven't finished outside top three in the annual Florida High School Athletic Association's Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards for their respective classification.
The only blip, athletic director Shawn Trent saw, was the girls golf program, which hasn't qualified for the state tournament since 2008.
"The girls team was probably about the worst athletic team we've had in the last five, six, seven years," Trent said. "They were kind of always the weak link ... and I don't know if that was a coaching issue or a talent issue. I'm not really sure. ... But now we have a top quality coach and we're lucky enough to have four or five girls that are all freshmen and sophomores that are just (good)."
The team's fortune might just change this season, with a deep and talented roster mixed with a teaching professional at the helm.
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David Lamm, who previously coached at Punta Gorda Charlotte and The Out-of-Door Academy, took over head coaching duties from boys soccer coach Vito Bavaro ahead of this season.
Lamm, who is the head pro at The River Club, began his tenure by gathering the players and parents and giving them a simple instruction for what he expected this season.
"My goal was to treat them all like they were my daughters, and the main thing is not so much what we shoot but how we shoot it," said Lamm,
who led the Charlotte Tarpons to their first-ever state tournament appearance four years ago. "And to make sure that when they go places, they do the right things and they act the right way."
Following their latest match, the Mustangs have maneuvered themselves into a 13-2-1 record and are the favorites to win the prestigious Donald Ross Memorial Invitational next month at Sara Bay Country Club.
Lately, Venice has been the local power on the girls golf scene. However, the Mustangs have beaten the Indians three times, which has raised expectations a bit.
"Obviously, you can't really expect to go to the state (tournament), because there's really tough competition," said Theresa Morrissey, who is averaging 39 for nine holes this season. "It's definitely one of my goals. ... I'd love to bring a team."
In addition to Morrissey, the Mustangs feature Katie Kroos-Roberts (37 average for nine holes), Sophia Warren (40 average), Darby Laurvick (45 average), Maya Isom (46 average) and Morgan Mulholland (51 average).
They also recently returned Natalie Robson to the rotation. Robson, who fired a 41 on Tuesday in her first competitive match this season, sprained her left wrist prior to the 2015 fall campaign.
"It's been tough," Robson said. "I want to be out there helping."
Since 2010, the boys golf team at Ranch was the one racking up the accolades.
The boys program became a state power when former head coach Dave Frantz scheduled more 18-hole tournaments to prepare his club for the postseason grind and when Ramsey Touchberry and Danny Walker, who each graduated in 2014, arrived on campus.
Those Division I-recruited golfers anchored three consecutive state championships, which marked the first time a public school boys golf team had accomplished the feat in Florida high school history.
But the current girls team defeated the boys in their annual Mustang Cup for the first time in a true head-to-head match play format.
"We've kind of been in the boys shadow for the past few years, so it's really nice," Morrissey said.
And this year's group only has two upperclassmen in Morrissey and Isom, who are just juniors. Plus, the entire group isn't afraid to hit the course for practice sessions.
"They all love to play. That's the real key," Lamm said. "... They all work so hard at it. I can't stress this enough, the greatest pleasure is I don't have to make them play."