RBHS golfer Mayan Covarrubias started playing the sport as a freshman. Now, as a junior, she’s looking for her second consecutive trip to the IHSA state finals. (BILL STONE/Contributor)

Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Mayan Covarrubias returned to Cantigny Golf Course in July for an Illinois Junior Golf Association tournament.

Covarrubias shot an 83 for 18 holes to tie for second place in the girls 16-18 age division.

“Coming from somebody who has played that course a number of times, I don’t like that course. It’s very challenging for me so I was very surprised,” Covarrubias said. “It wasn’t my best golf, but it was the best I played there so it was a little achievement.”

Covarrubias hopes to continue those improvements with the Bulldogs after a breakthrough 2021 season that climaxed with her first trip to the IHSA Class 2A state meet. 

Since shooting a 101 at state, she’s worked with a golf coach and competed this summer in IJGA tournaments for the first time to maintain her competition form.

“I have my sights set on just playing consistent golf throughout the year and getting to where I want to go, which is to state again and hopefully farther than I did last year,” Covarrubias said. “It was a good experience to get there, but now that I had a little taste of what it is, I want more.” 

That includes gaining more distance on her drives in preparation for returning to Decatur’s Hickory Point Golf Course, the lengthy Class 2A girls state course.

Covarrubias earned 2021 All-Metro Suburban Conference honors after sharing fourth at the conference meet (84). She was fifth at the Sandburg Regional (81) and followed with a solid 79 at the Hinsdale South Sectional to share the final advancing individual score for the top 10 individuals not among the three advancing teams. 

“I was playing some really good golfers that day, but I just kept playing my game and I shot one of the best scores of my career on paper,” Covarrubias said. “It was a great experience going to state and getting there was definitely hard. … I know I didn’t play well at state, but it was just a great experience to go to Decatur and to see the course.” 

Considering that Covarrubias started playing golf competitively as a freshman, she’s made significant strides. She first learned from her father, Hector.

“My dad’s a huge golfer so he’s helped me out a lot. He makes the excuse to go out with me all of the time,” Covarrubias said.

Her father went about finding personal coach Eric Martin from GOLFTEC in Oak Brook to improve her game. Covarrubias said her father sometimes enjoys the golf tips, too.

Her IJGA summer included another second place and two more top-five finishes.

“[She’s] definitely longer from the tee. She is a basketball player, too. I see her strength,” RBHS girls golf coach Doug Schultz said. “She knows after that experience downstate that she’s got to get that secondary club because state is a longer course. I’m seeing some really nice hits, so she’s adjusted.”

Covarrubias grew up a softball player but gravitated toward golf, especially because she could play that more during COVID restrictions. 

While she will have a different swing this season after Martin’s suggestions, those days of swinging a bat definitely helped.

“That’s probably why I’m playing golf because I played softball,” Covarrubias said. “They’re really different because I’m not playing in front of a lot of people like I was in softball. I don’t really have anyone yelling at me anymore [while playing] so I’m good.”