This summer has been good to Elina Sinz.
The Tompkins senior had a tremendous June. A win at the American Junior Golf Association Junior Championship at The University Club on June 3 earned Sinz her first AJGA win, a milestone in her career. The AJGA is the top echelon for junior players.
Then, on June 24, Sinz qualified for the United States Golf Association junior girls tournament on July 22-27 at SentryWorld in Wisconsin. And she’s done all this by turning weaknesses into strengths, as a vastly improved putting game and stronger irons have aided her success.
“Everything’s just kind of coming in, working together,” Sinz said.
Sinz had a strong 2019 season for Tompkins, winning the District 19-6A and Region III-6A championships before finishing in a tie for 14th at the Class 6A state tournament. Playing on slower greens, Sinz struggled putting at state.
So, she went to work with her personal coach, Tony Allen of Meadowbrook Golf Course, on her putting. It has always been a work in progress, but Sinz and Allen really emphasized putting during practice sessions over the last few months.
“When I saw her first putt, she basically just moved her wrist. It made the ball go off-line,” said Allen, who has worked with Sinz for four years. “We tried to get her more connected to her body, with her club, hands, arm all working as a unit. Therefore, we can be more consistent on our line and on speed control. She didn’t have any speed control at all; she was basically guessing. She’s so athletic-minded that she can coordinate her movements to where how far her ball needs to travel without maybe even doing it right. She’s just a gamer.”
There’s not a lot Sinz needs to work on, Allen admitted. The best club in her bag is her driver, as she averages about 240-245 yards off the tee. Still, he would like to see that number upped to 260. Approach shots onto the greens could be more efficient.
But all of that will be taken care of. Sinz is a natural. She’s meticulous in how she navigates the course to how she sees it and where she needs to be. “She always hits fairways,” Allen said. She plays the game free and focused, largely because of her mentality.
Sinz has the intangibles, the things that make golf golf, down. Her mental game is better, as she’s doing a finer job keeping an even keel on the course and managing her mistakes.
“She’s got a very deep focus,” Allen said. “When she gets prepared to hit a shot, I don’t think there’s anything going on in her mind. She gets in a zone. It’s pretty amazing. Between shots, she’ll talk and joke around. But she’s in her own bubble, really, in her approach.
“A bomb could go off and it wouldn’t disturb her. She’s a tough competitor on herself, internally, but her bad shots are really great shots for somebody else.”
It helps that Sinz has faith in Allen because he knows how to read her and understands how she approaches situations on the course. Sinz has had coaches before that did not relate to the way she saw the game. Allen, a 13-year pro at Meadowbrook, does.
That does wonders for Sinz’s confidence, which her game is predicated upon.
“I tend to be pretty firm and aggressive with how I take on different shots,” Sinz said. “Confidence has been a huge thing for me; my putting, for instance, has gotten a lot better because I’ve found a trust in my hands and my feel. The more confident I am, the better I play. Him being able to understand me and see what I see gives me the confidence that we work well together and what we’re working on will make me better.”
Allen has taught players who went on to play at schools like Ole Miss, Texas and Penn State. He knows elite players when he sees them, and Sinz, who is headed to play at Auburn after next year, is one of them.
“In all of my girls that have gone to DI colleges or been like her, I’ve never had to tell them to practice or go play golf,” Allen said. “It’s in her heart to play golf, so much so that I don’t know what she would do without golf. They all have that drive. It’s not about winning tournaments, but about going out and playing a good, solid game in competition. It’s about how you feel about your game each day. That’s the struggle in golf.”
Sinz, whose average score is a 74, is eager to participate in the USGA tournament this month at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. That “gorgeous” course has been on her bucket list. One more goal accomplished.
She will play in another tournament before then. Otherwise, she will keep practicing, getting better as she eyes conquering the “Holy Trinity” of high school golf next year: winning the district, region and state tournaments.
“I’m happy where I’m at,” Sinz said. “There are some things I want to fine-tune, but it’s just going to be practice, practice, practice until then.”