INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (BVM) — The McCauley sisters could not be any different in their personalities and approaches to the game of golf.
“We take very different mental approaches to golf,” Isabella McCauley said.
“Our personalities are completely opposite,” Reese McCauley said.
Isabella, the older of the two sisters, takes a more analytical approach to the game. She is constantly planning her next shot, making contingency plans and is always practicing all those different outcomes. Reese, on the other hand, has a more laid back approach.
“She’s just more happy-go-lucky,” Isabella said.
For two sisters who have been playing together since their dad first introduced them to golf as little girls, their differences have allowed them to build off of one another.
“It does help us push each other, too,” Reese said.
Reese can remind Isabella to have fun and calm down when they are just out there practicing, while Isabella will talk Reese into staying out for an extra hour of practice. It’s a dynamic that has kept the sisters close and has ensured that if one is out on the course, the other is most likely out there, too.
“Reese and I will actually play together like 90 to 95% of the rounds we play,” Isabella said. “We’re always playing together.”
And for the most part, the girls keep the competition out of their golfing until a tournament comes around. The rest of the time they are golfing to get better, but also to just enjoy the sport. It’s the reason their father first taught them to play.
“There’s no point in playing it if I can’t have fun with it,” Reese said.
Being out on the course and playing with friends has been the best part of the game. Being able to scratch the competitive itch through events is just a bonus, but a bonus that has taken the girls farther than they ever expected.
“I feel like as we progressed, it just gave us more motivation to practice more and be out there everyday,” Reese said.
In particular, their success in events pushed them to see how far they could go. By age 10, Isabella was taking the game more seriously and Reese was right behind her.
“Definitely seeing her on the golf course and where she’s gone, that’s really encouraged me and definitely pushed me to practice harder, too,” Reese said.
As a freshman playing for the Simley High School golf team, Isabella won the Class 3A individual girls state title by 10 strokes and with an overall score of 135, tying a state record. Unfortunately, she would not be able to defend her title the following year as a sophomore because of COVID. But this past season, a McCauley did win state again, only this time it was Reese.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Reese won state this past season as a freshman by just one stroke. She and a close friend, Olivia Salonek, were neck-and-neck as they entered the back nine with Reese even falling behind by a stroke at one point. However, as they teed off on 18, the younger McCauley sister had a one-stroke lead.
“I was walking up to the 18 green after I hit my approach shot and my coach was like, ‘OK just get this putt close,’” Reese said. “I was like, ‘OK I don’t know if I have to make this or not.’ I went up there and ended up two-putting.”
Reese would par the 18th hole and so did Salonek giving Reese the title with a final score of five under.
“Our friend who took second to her, right after she (Reese) made her putt on the last hole was like, ‘Reese you won,’” Isabella said.
“My mouth dropped wide open,” Reese said. “I was kind of shocked and then it was kind of a whirlwind from there, but it was fun.”
Even though she was in the final group and had some idea of what was going on in the state meet, Reese really had no idea what the score was or what she would need to shoot to win state. Setting herself up to be blindsided by the news after finishing on 18.
“It was fun to watch her golf because it’s just so different from me,” Isabella said.
Isabella was watching rather than competing because she had missed sectionals to play in the U.S. Women’s Open as the youngest girls player ever from Minnesota to do so. She had qualified for the Open by finishing second in the U.S. Women’s Open qualifying tournament at Somerset Country Club in Mendota Heights.
“I really wasn’t expecting to qualify,” Isabella said. “It was actually my first non-high school event of the year. It was really cool because we were scoreboard watching and I kind of knew what I needed to be at. Sometimes I want to know, other times I don’t. In this case I did.”
Reese won sectionals, setting herself up to win state and Isabella was able to play The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Isabella would finish 75th in the U.S. Open and miss the cut by just two strokes.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Isabella said.
Her experience at the Open set her up for a successful summer which led to a fall in which she became the first woman to win the 2021 Minnesota Golf Champions. Reese also built off her success in the spring, winning the Sanford Golf Futures Tour.
However, with the golf season ending soon and winter coming, the focus for both girls is switching to the spring. Isabella will be attending college and playing golf at the University of Minnesota next year, but she wants to end high school on a high note, especially since timing is on her side this year.
“The state tournament is actually a different time than the U.S. Open next year, so both,” Isabella said. “Win the state tournament and then make the cut at the U.S. Open is the goal.”
To do this, Isabella will have to go up against the reigning state champion.
“I think we have the same goal, it will be kind of intense,” Reese said.
It’s something they’ve talked about and are excited for. The chance to play against each other in the state championship would be a perfect way to end their high school career together. Not only ensuring the state title stays in the McCauley family, but also that the winner’s biggest fan will be right next to them.
“I think it will be really fun,” Reese said.