West

Graves County’s Ellie West putts during the First Region tournament at Murray Country Club.

Graves County golf’s Ellie West has put together quite the career during her time as a Lady Eagle.

West has been a part of the Graves County golf team dating back to her middle school days, learning a multitude of tips and tricks from teammates and coaches en route to a well accomplished career.

In each of the last three seasons, West has finished top-seven or better in the regional tournament, qualifying her to play in the state tournament at Bowling Green Country Club.

As a sophomore, West outplayed a majority of the field as she took home 27th place out of 144 participants with a final score of 19-over-par (163).

Last year, amid the precautions brought about by COVID-19, West managed to buckle down and make her second trip to state, shooting a 23-over-par (167), good for a share of 45th place.

As her senior year began, West knew there would be a few hurdles to get past in her pursuit of another trip to the state tournament.

Heading into 2021, the First Region field was as good as it had ever been during West’s time at Graves, meaning preparation was key.

Due to the lack of numbers on the girls roster, West played for the Eagles’ boys team, playing from the blue tees in most competitions.

This added challenge would later play to West’s advantage as she managed to pick up three consecutive second place finishes before becoming the first Lady Eagle in the 16 year history of the Lady Eagle Invitational to win the home tournament.

Following a superb regular season, West earned another top-seven finish in the First Region tournament at Murray Country Club with a nine-over-par (82).

In her third and final trip to BGCC for the KHSAA Girls Golf Championship, West churned out another impressive finish, earning a share of 46th place with a two round 25-over-par (169).

Although she didn’t leave Bowling Green with the results she would’ve liked in her three trips, West said she’s proud of her accomplishments and believes playing at the highest level in high school will be advantageous going forward.

“I didn’t play the way I had hoped for in my last state tournament but I was still able to make the cut and play both days so it was still a great experience,” West said. “Playing in the state tournament is always amazing and has been my favorite tournament to play in. Being able to make the cut all three years playing in the tournament is something I’m very proud of, even if I didn’t always play the way I wanted to. The state tournament is always very challenging and I think playing in it for three years was good preparation for my college career.”

Following the conclusion of West’s phenomenal career, Graves County head coach Chuck Whitnell was proud of the effort his senior gave in her third state tournament appearance.

“Ellie had a great season. She finished with all her nine hole matches in the 30’s while playing several matches from the boys tees,” Whitnell said. “Her tournament play was outstanding as she finished first or second in five of her eight tournaments. The state tournament course in Bowling Green is one of the most difficult in the state. Ellie struck the ball very well last week. She hit 85% of the fairways for the two days and was always on or around the green on her approaches. She probably left a few out there on Tuesday but course conditions after the rain Wednesday made the course much tougher.”

Just before her trip to state last week, West added to an already lengthy accomplishment list by announcing her commitment to continue her academic and athletic career at Murray State University.

West will play for legendary head coach Velvet Milkman as she looks to add to the record books of a historic program.

Whitnell added praise for West’s commitment, making a prediction that many would not refute.

“I was talking to a friend the other day about college golf and how difficult the transition is for players,” Whitnell said. “A freshman golfer can expect to shoot four to five strokes more than their high school average. I don’t believe Ellie will have that difficulty. Murray State has good coaching and a successful program. It might be different for Ellie initially, but she will meet the challenge.”

As for West, the opportunity to continue her career in golf at the collegiate level has been a work in progress.

Hours upon hours on the links have in the end paid off for one of the First Region’s best.

As she began to field interest from a number of local colleges, West said once she visited with coach Milkman and toured the Murray State campus, she knew furthering her career in the blue and gold was the right decision.

“Murray State has a beautiful campus and amazing athletic facilities,” West said. “While I was on my visit everything just felt like home and coach Milkman is such an amazing coach. I just knew Murray was right for me. I fell in love with every aspect of the golf and academic sides of the college and knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

Looking ahead to what’s next as a Murray State Racer, West said she’s excited to continue to improve under the leadership of a legendary coach and with a historic program.

“I am most excited about how much my game will improve once I start playing for coach Milkman,” West said. “There is still so much in my game that can improve and through going to play for Murray and coach Milkman, I believe I will be a lot better golfer. I’m very excited to use the new indoor golf training room to better my game and to travel with the team to play in tournaments.”