Perhaps more than any sport, golf can invade the psyche. Those afflicted can’t shake the itch to constantly work on their game, to hit the ball just a little bit truer, a little bit longer and perhaps shave a stroke off their personal best.
Lindsey Powanda, a junior at Mt. Lebanon High School, has the bug. Big time.
Powanda used to balance golf and competitive gymnastics, but in middle school she chose irons and woods over balance beams and uneven parallel bars.
“I just really enjoyed golf. I just kind of gravitated toward golf,” she says.
With room to grow, including a potential golf scholarship with college coaches recruiting her, her career already has a gold star after she became the first Lebo golfer to win the girls’ WPIAL Class AAA championship in October. A week later, she finished seventh in the state at the PIAA Class AAA championship.
Her high school coach, Pete Bouvy, made Powanda the team captain and sees in her a particular drive and serious approach. “She’s very friendly with all the other players, but she’s very focused on her game,” he says.
Powanda won the WPIAL title the first time it was held at the world-famous Oakmont Country Club, which has hosted the U.S. Open nine times. She had seen the course in 2016 when she went to watch practice rounds for the most recent Open there.
Still, there was preparation to do. Powanda is a good student, so it’s not too surprising that she voluntarily takes detailed notes when it comes to golf. When she was lucky enough to play a practice round at Oakmont before WPIALs, she logged lots of details.
Such as on the first hole: “The fairway’s really tight. I need to hit it down the right side. … That green is very, very tricky. You have to land the ball 30 yards short and let it run on.” She, in fact, meticulously mapped out all the famously tough greens and how they slope.
Her homework paid off a couple of days later when she shot a 5-over-par 80 to win the WPIAL championship. At states, she shot a 5-over 77 at Heritage Hills Country Club in York.
Powanda began playing golf at age 5 with her father, Steve, who was a gymnast at Pitt. She entered her first golf tournament when she was 8 and continues to play in amateur events outside the high school season. Her mother, Pam, is known for bringing a little chair and following Powanda around at all of her tournaments and school matches.
Powanda has three primary instructors: Bouvy, her father and a personal coach, Dan Reilly of Cool Springs. She finds their tips complementary, with Reilly working closely with her on her swing—“It’s a beautiful swing,” Bouvy says—and her father working with her on her short game. Bouvy oversees drills and team coaching.
“I don’t think any of them ever gave me conflicting advice,” says Powanda, who absorbs teaching without interference from an ego.
When she was a sophomore, Powanda was in Bouvy’s honors math class at the high school both semesters. Her memory: “He would always call on me, and I would never know the answer.” His memory: “High 90s on everything.” She got an A both terms.
Bouvy doesn’t go as far as promising that Powanda will play professionally on the LPGA tour, but he does note that golf and rifle are the only Lebo sports without practice facilities on the school campus—the golf teams use the municipal course—because there hasn’t been enough money raised for a golf simulator or short-game area.
“Maybe it could be the Lindsey Powanda Golf Room, maybe if I’m caddying for her on the (pro) tour,” Bouvy says with a laugh.