QUINCY -- Brooke Walbring has never paid attention to the age gap that exists among the Quincy High School girls golfers.
She's never had a reason to.
"We all get along and love each other just like sisters," said Walbring, a senior and the most experienced of the six who will tee it up Monday in the Class 2A sectional at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy. "All that matters is that you're putting in the time and love the game of golf. It doesn't matter how old you are."
No one seems to notice anyway.
"We went to dinner, and you couldn't have even told who was who based on how they were interacting with each other," said QHS coach Lindsay Burry, who has a lineup featuring three seniors, one junior and two freshmen. "Golf is an individual game, but you still have to like who you are going to practice with every day. Obviously that helps."
It helps that they all contribute, too.
The Blue Devils won the regional title last week at Pekin's Lick Creek Golf Course by 49 strokes, placing its four best scores in the top six in the entire field. Had they used the scores posted by Lauren Fuglaar or Caroline Smith, they still would have advanced.
"We don't know who is going to be low on any given day," Burry said. "I've struggled all year with who am I going to put No. 1, who am I going to put No. 2, etc. It doesn't matter. On any given day, any of them could go out and win a tournament."
Walbring, freshman Laci Novosel and junior Avery Scott have each been the medalist at different times this season.
"Literally, anybody could be No. 1," Walbring said. "It keeps you on your ‘A' game all the time. It doesn't matter what number you play on our team or who you are playing against. What matters is how you play and how well you do that day. You push as hard as you can."
That's something Walbring has done throughout her career.
She was a volleyball player before picking up golf as a freshman, so her game was a work in progress. She had a stroke average somewhere in the 110-115 range as a freshman but missed advancing to the sectional as an individual by one stroke.
At that moment, Burry knew better days were ahead.
"That was kind of the moment where she said, ‘Man, I can do this,'" Burry said. "It took off from there."
Walbring has gone from "just winging it," as she put it, during her freshman year to understanding the game and managing it better.
"You take it slower," she said. "When I was a freshman, I was just whacking at a ball and hoping it would go in the hole. Now, I know there's more to golf. There's strategy and different shots and paying attention to the wind and other factors. As a freshman, I didn't know all of that."
She didn't have the same passion she does now either.
"It means more to me," Walbring said. "I actually love the sport. I have more love for it than I did for volleyball."
It makes her wonder how much better she will be four years from now if she's playing in college.
"I've asked myself that a lot," said Walbring, who hopes to be a physical therapist or traveling nurse but has made no college plans yet. "If you're playing every day, you just keep getting better."
Her game is proof of that. So is the success of the Blue Devils, who want to improve on last year's fifth-place finish at the sectional.
"They want to win it," Burry said. "Their attitude is, ‘This is the year we're going to state.' I'm not holding back on that. We're all in on that."