Madison High School junior Keara Eder is the Madison Courier Girls Golfer of the Year. (Photo by Nina Campbell)
Madison High School junior Keara Eder is the Madison Courier Girls Golfer of the Year. (Photo by Nina Campbell)
There may have been no local athlete that enjoyed the COVID-19 lockdown more than Keara Eder. While sports were shut down all over the country as people quarantined to stay away from the disease, Eder was able to hit the golf course alone, playing round after round without school or other social engagements to get in the way.

That extra practice time paid dividends for the Madison High School junior, who responded with her best season to date this past season. She missed a state finals berth by one stroke in the toughest regional in the state, but she also claimed the Hoosier Hills Conference championship and her third-straight sectional championship and was the easy selection to be The Madison Courier's Girls Golfer of the Year for the second year in a row.

"I feel like I did pretty good this year. I got down to those lower scores that I was looking for. Conference was 73 which I was really happy about," Eder said. "Sectionals went pretty well until the last few holes and the regional didn't start out all that great but was better in the second half. And I shot under par once or twice. Overall, I'm pretty happy."

While most golfers were happy to break 90 in an 18-hole match, Eder spent her season chasing par and her scores were among the state's best. She won her final Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament with a 73 and a blowout on the final four holes at the sectional dropped her to 78, but she still won the sectional title by 11 strokes.

None of that was a surprise to Madison coach Jake Shockley, who has watched Eder rise from a talented freshmen to one of the best players in southern Indiana over the past three seasons.

"Keara's work ethic over the summer was second to none as far as anybody I've seen so far as golf coach. She would often work after practice and put in extra hours. And people at the course would often tell me about the extra time Keara would put in," Shockley said. "I think Keara is an elite golfer in the state. It's a shame that she was unable to make the cut at the tournament. I think however like any competitor that it is possible that it will only fuel her fire even more."

The one negative on Eder's season was missing the state finals, but even that loss serves to showcase how good of a season she had. Eder missed a berth by one stroke while playing in the power-packed Roncalli Regional, but her 79 would have qualified her in each of the other five regionals around the state.

"Missing the cut and regional to go to state was definitely a heartbreaker. Especially the way that it worked out. However I do think it's a great learning experience," Shockley said. "Sometimes it's unfortunate that we play in such a murderers row in the regional. It's not an excuse, it's just a hard reality for us sometimes. Personally I think Keara at the moment is a top 25 golfer in the state, and I think next year she has an opportunity to be a top 10 golfer in the state depending on how things shake out for her."

Eder has already began looking at colleges and has a good idea of what she's looking for in a destination. But she's also excited to see what opportunities come up, especially now that the high school season has concluded.

"I have been talking to a few coaches and looking at things but I'm hoping now that the season is over, I can get further down the rabbit hole looking at things," Eder said. "I kinda have an idea of what I want to do, but it's all up in the air right now. I'm looking for a school that is broad enough with the degrees to decide what I want to do."

"I'm very excited to see what she does next season. She has the opportunity to be, I believe, the first four-time individual sectional champion in Madison Consolidated High School history," Shockley said. "And that is quite an accomplishment, because there have been some very good lady golfers come through the high school and to do anything that has never been done before in this day and age is quite a feather in the cap."

Like any elite competitor, Eder is already at work on next season. She hit the links this past weekend and finished second in a Junior Tour event at Otter Creek Golf Course near Columbus and will play her final competitive match of the Fall season next week.

But that doesn't mean she'll put away the clubs. As long as the weather is nice, she and her father Michael will be on course firing away and when the weather turns, she'll move inside and work on other aspects of her game. All in the name of getting better and closing out her senior season on a high note.

"Over the offseason, I'm really going to focus on my putting and chipping and making sure I keep my contact good with all of my longer clubs," Eder said. "Once I come back next season, hopefully I come in fully loaded."