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Hood hooked on golf, academics

St. Vincent High School senior Catie Hood has the best of both golfing worlds. She has just finished competing in the North Coast Section Tournament for girls, and this spring will play for the third straight season on the Mustang boys team. This will actually be her fourth season on the boys team, after she played as a freshman on the junior varsity team.

Hood was no stranger to golf when she arrived at St. Vincent. She almost literally grew up on a golf course. Her grandparents, Wayne and Cherie Campbell, live at the Marin Country Club, and had their granddaughter playing at a very early age.

One of her aunts played the game professionally.

Hood’s participation in the girls NCS Tournament was her second, and an immense improvement over her first tournament. She lowered her score by 40 strokes. She also broke 100, shooting a 99 to place among the top 20 percent in the tournament. Her score, while good, paled a bit in comparison to two of the other golfers in her group, the No. 1 and No. 3, seeds who shot a 67 and a 69.

Still, participating in the NCS and showing so much improvement was a good way to end the girls’ portion of her golfing career at St. Vincent.

To say that Hood is hooked on golf is a huge understatement. She is hooked, netted and in the boat.

She practices almost every day at the Marin Country Club, plays in amateur tournaments on weekends and practices with Sonoma State coach Val Verhunce.

Playing at St. Vincent has given her the unique opportunity to play with both boys and girls.

As a sophomore and junior, she was consistently the boys team’s fifth or sixth player in Coastal Mountain Conference matches. The four best scores count in the team total and Hood is determined to be among the team’s counting scorers this spring.

“There is a huge difference between the boys’ game and the girls game,” she said. “The guys are looser. They have more fun. They talk a lot between holes. The girls are more serious. They don’t talk much when they’re walking between holes. The girls think a lot about their game — what shot they are going to take next. The guys just hit it as far as they can.

“I play a lot like the guys. I play with my brother all the time and I learned to play like him. It turns out that I can hit the ball pretty strong and it’s something I like to do.”

Hood has pretty much been accepted on the boys team, but it wasn’t easy. “I really had to prove myself,” she explained. “It was harder for me, because my brother played and had built a reputation. It wasn’t easy following him.”

If Hood has another passion besides golf, it is her commitment to academic excellence. Last year, taking all Honors Classes, she ranked in the top 10 academically at St. Vincent, a school known for its academic excellence. She acknowledges that her senior year is not quite as stressful, since she is taking more AP classes, and has a study period where she can get a head start on her homework.

It is her academics that might keep her from playing on a college golf team. If she wants to play in college, she would probably have to attend a D-2 or D-3 school, while she really wants to go to a D-1 school to pursue her academic dream of becoming an environmental engineer.

Her No. 1 choice right now is Cal Poly, although she has also applied to UC Davis and schools in Nevada, Colorado and Oregon.

While she spends a lot of time on a golf course and even more time studying, Hood finds time to help in the community. She assists in her mother’s third-grade class at Glenwood Elementary School in San Rafael, working with students with learning disabilities, helping with her church (St. Anthony’s) rummage sale and, her favorite, helping with the animals at the Marin Humane Society.

Hood is the daughter of Doug and Angela Hood and the sister of Jack Hood and Grace Hood, a player on the first-ever St. Vincent girls lacrosse team.

Even as she looks forward to graduation and moving on to college, Hood has some unfinished business at St. Vincent. Her school has won the Coastal Mountain Conference golf championship for the past eight years, Hood wants to be part of nine in a row.