Stephanie Connelly has a few simple rules on the golf course. She forbids anyone from touching her putter. If she hits a bad tee shot, she will discard the tee. If she bogeys a hole, she puts the ball in her bag and relegates it to the shag bag for practice balls at home -- unless she previously has made a birdie with the ball.
So far, the rules have worked well for Connelly, a three-time All-Met from Northeast. She has won two girls' state titles and finished second last season after shooting an even-par round. She has accepted a scholarship to play at Ohio State. And she spent the summer traveling throughout the country to play in elite junior tournaments.
Connelly began playing golf when she was 5, tagging along when her parents played a round and dropping a ball on the green when they got close to the hole. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that Connelly says that putting is the best part of her game.
"I can make putts from anywhere," Connelly said. "I work a lot on my putting. That's the thing I've been doing longest, so I'm really the most confident in it."
Just don't try putting your hands on her Scotty Cameron putter, with a cover featuring black Scottish terriers and her initials engraved on the toe of the club. Connelly let a teammate she considers a good putter hit a few balls this summer during practice at the Canon Cup -- a match-play event pitting the nation's top junior golfers -- but otherwise it is off limits.
And Connelly puts the club to good use. On Tuesday, in the second round of the Anne Arundel County Fall Preview Tournament, Connelly shot 33 on the back nine, one-putting five holes. A 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole helped her tie Key School's Chris Conroy for first place in regulation, though Conroy won a closest-to-the-pin playoff.
Although she said she is tired from a busy schedule -- including two trips to Texas, one to Oregon, one to Chicago and one to Arizona -- Connelly is ready for the high school season, where the girls compete with boys during the regular season then have their own state tournament.
"I don't think [the boys like losing to a girl], but too bad," Connelly said. "I don't really pay attention to it."