Only two years ago, Susie Bylund was guessing which irons to use on a given golf shot. She still nearly qualified for the Iowa state meet.
The Audubon standout reached state last season and medaled despite opening the tournament with her worst nine-hole round in recent memory.
Now on the verge of her third varsity season with the Wheelers, Bylund has some experience to go with her powerful swing and competitive drive. Mix in a boldness on the links — no sand traps or lakes scare her — and the future appears bright for the outspoken junior.
“My brother always told me golf is a game to take chances,” Bylund said. “I was always taught to go for the dream and be confident in your shot no matter what. I love doing that.”
One objective has always been to beat brother Michael Bylund, who graduated from Audubon last spring after finishing 25th at the 1-A boys state meet. The older sibling offered plenty of pointers growing up, only to see his sister start winning their head-to-head rounds in high school.
The rivalry helped motivate Susie Bylund to stick with her favorite sport after learning it at a young age. She’s always looking to squeeze in a few holes even while balancing a busy multi-sport schedule at Audubon.
As the volleyball team’s setter, her 7.33 assists per set were second most in the Western Iowa Conference. In basketball, she led the Wheelers by averaging 11.3 points per game as a shooting guard.
“I’m the type that loves being the leader out there on the basketball court,” Bylund said. “I’m the kind of person that knows all the little individual things about each position. Sports mean a lot to me. I’m always trying to work hard and do the best I can do.”
But Bylund remains most at home on a golf course. She’s already spent two summers on the Iowa PGA’s Junior Tour. Last spring she claimed the WIC individual championship and won district and regional titles before going to state.
“It’s going to be fun watching her,” Audubon coach Paul Lynch said. “I think she really has a good demeanor about her game and works hard at it.”
“In my mind, she’s a top-10 golfer. If she can put some rounds together, I think she could finish in the top five (at state).”
Bylund placed eighth out of 55 at the state meet a season ago even after carding a bogey or worse on the first nine holes for a 16-over 52. But she bounced back the next day on the front side for a 4-over 40 en route to a strong finish.
“I could have done so much better,” Bylund said. “I wasn’t playing my normal game because nerves happened to take over all the time. I didn’t expect to be in the top 10 because I never thought that far ahead. My goal was always to make it to state.”
Now her aspirations are for a better individual finish — assuming the weather ever lets her get outside. She got in five rounds when her family went to Arizona for spring break last week, but Audubon has already had two meets postponed this week because of poor conditions.
The Wheelers hope to open their season Thursday at IKM-Manning.
Bylund’s team should again be among the best around. Audubon returns everyone from last year’s squad that finished seventh at the 1-A meet. Lynch said he’s already seen improvement from the likes of No. 2 golfer Lexie Thygesen and fellow senior Rachel Flug among others as they brace to compete in 2-A in the new five-class system.
“Susie is our best golfer,” Lynch said. “She’s been our best golfer since she stepped into her first meet her freshman year — that’s how solid she is. It’s a good combination. The girls get along well, and it’s a good group of kids.”