Profile: Dexter’s Olivia Naylor finishes strong with a career-best round at Regionals

One of many highlights on the golf course for Dexter’s Olivia Naylor came last year when she made the varsity team as only a sophomore. A year later, she didn’t just make the team, but finished on the top of the scorecard for the Dreadnaughts who had another successful season out on the links.

Now a junior, Naylor saved her best for last. She just missed making the cut for the State Finals by shooting a career-best and team-best 89 last Wednesday at Regionals.

“I am extremely proud of the dedication and effort my team and I have put in this year,” Naylor says. “Our goal was just to play our best and keep improving our game.”

Naylor and Dexter checked both those boxes in 2020.

“Olivia is a player who always wants to advance her golf game,” said Dexter varsity coach Greg Palkowski. “What makes Olivia a good player is her focus on the course, her decision making, her patience playing in competitions, and her ability to let things go and focus on the tasks ahead of her.”

Naylor does all the things a coach expects from not only one of the top players but a team leader. “Olivia shows great leadership qualities and these are evident both on and off the golf course when leading our Dexter team,” Palkowski said.

Naylor has the uncanny ability to hit a golf ball and have it go where she wants it to go – something golfers have been struggling with since the game was invented. It certainly makes the game easier and a lot more fun.

But she’s not content on being the player she is today – she wants to be better tomorrow.

“I think you can always be improving everything in your golf game,” says Naylor, who made the First Team All-SEC Team this season.

And that includes the mental part of the game – another challenge for many golfers, both young and old.

“I believe it’s extremely important to stay focused when on the course,” Naylor says. “Your mentality on the course can affect how you’re playing at any time. Especially when you have a bad shot, it’s best to forget about it and focus on making the next one better.”

Olivia, the daughter of Catharine and Richard Naylor, also plays tennis. She has been dealing with the challenges of 2020 the best she can.

“School has felt very weird this year,” she says. “I miss being back in a classroom setting and seeing my classmates. Since school has been online, it has given me more time to work on my golf game.”

Well, that’s a good thing.

Naylor started playing golf when she was around 5 years old. “My grandparents golfed and my grandpa really was the one who got me into it and he taught me from a young age. I’ve been in and out of it until high school started.”

Now she’s in – as in all in.

“I’m grateful we got to play this year,” she says. “As a team we worked really hard to play well this season. Our team was very close, and we were a fun, hard-working group.”

She plans on teeing it up next year for the Dreadnaughts and take her game to the college tee box after high school.


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