Whitefish’s New Wonder

After dominating the Class AA ranks the past two seasons, Coral Schulz is now teeing off in the Flathead Valley and fitting in as one of the best golfers in Montana

By Dillon Tabish

Most teenagers might be nervous about moving to a new town. Not someone as calm and collected as Coral Schulz.

The standout golfer from Helena Capital uprooted with her family this summer and moved to Whitefish, where she’s brought her all-state pedigree and is now leading the Lady Bulldogs after a state trophy.

“Our girls are improving every week. They have a shot at bringing home some hardware (from the Class A state tournament),” said Tim Olson, head golf coach at Whitefish High School. “They could have something special.”

Schulz is a big reason why. After placing third at the Class AA state tournaments each of the last two seasons, Schulz is widely regarded as one of the top players in the state. The new junior is fitting right into the Flathead Valley, which has a rich history of talented golfers.

Last week she cruised to victory at the Columbia Falls Invitational tournament at Meadow Lake Golf Course, carding 9-over 82 and winning by nine strokes. Two weeks ago she shot 78 at Cabinet View Golf Club to win by eight strokes over teammate Katie Fyall.

Her most noteworthy conquest this season was against her former Class AA competitors. At the Missoula Invitational in late August, Schulz defended her title and edged Class AA’s reigning state champion, Glacier’s Teigan Avery, after shooting 74-77 to win by three strokes.

Last week the girls squared off again at the Kalispell Invitational at Northern Pines, and Avery claimed the win, shooting 79-72—151 to edge Schulz by one stroke.

“She’s very competitive. Her work ethic is as good as I’ve seen ever,” Olson said of Schulz. “And more than that, her stepping into a new school with new kids and being accepted as the leader and the role model that she is has really stood out.”

Schulz will return to Meadow Lake this Thursday for the one-day Northwestern A Divisional Golf Tournament. The top 20 individuals qualify for the Class A state meet, which is in Hamilton Oct. 3-4.

“I definitely want to do well,” Schulz said.

The title is up for grabs now that most of Polson’s talented team, which has won three consecutive state titles, has graduated. Whitefish last won a girls state championship in 2007. Whitefish senior Erin Tabish claimed last year’s individual state title, shooting 83-82—165 to win by six strokes over Polson senior Jaylin Kenney. Meanwhile, at the Class AA state tournament, Schulz shot 72-78—150, finishing third behind runner-up Kortney McNeil of Billings Senior, 77-69—146, and Avery, 72-73—145.

Since then Schulz has traveled the country competing in elite tournaments and focusing on progressing her game to the next level. She’s also a member of the Alberta-Montana Junior Ryder Cup Team, which gathers the state’s best players for an annual international competition.

“She’s got the pedigree at a pretty young age,” said Tim Kelly, the longtime golf coach at Helena Capital, where Schulz played the past two seasons. “We were sorry to see her go but wish her nothing but the best because she is such a quality kid.”

Kelly credits Schulz’s work ethic and mental fortitude as her strongest qualities. Even as a young player, she could hold her own against the most experienced players and stay composed in high-pressure situations, he said.

“She has a great demeanor. She’s not too high or too low emotionally,” he said. “And she just seems to enjoy herself. Her personality is infectious.”

Schulz began playing golf almost as soon as she could walk. From there she developed a passion for the sport and plays almost year-round anyway she can.

Over the years her family visited the Flathead Valley and she made friends here. So when she found out her family was moving to Whitefish, she was more excited than anything.

“I love it here so much. There’s a lot to do and everyone is super nice. That really stands out,” she said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I probably should’ve been. I was excited for a change.”

It helped, too, that the Flathead Valley is known for its top-notch golf courses, including Whitefish Lake Golf Club, where she practices on a daily basis.

“It’s great to have courses like this to practice on. And the coaches are awesome,” she said. “I’m just super excited.”