New Verona girls golf coach Gabby Curtis knows what it’s like to feel uncomfortable on a golf course.

The former Wisconsin Badger golfer played on the boys golf team at Altoona High School and is used to being in challenging situations on the course.

“I think that it helps that I have played a lot of golf and seen a lot of coaches,” Curtis said. “Hopefully I can take the best from each one of them. I want to be a mentor for them.”

Curtis takes over a Verona program that has made four trips to state since 2013, but hasn’t won a conference title since 2014. Two years ago, Verona qualified for state as a team, led by then sophomore Caitlyn Ott.

Verona finished second in the Big Eight Conference last year behind Middleton. The Wildcats were four shots away from qualifying for sectionals last year. The top two returning golfers for the Wildcats are Ott and fellow senior Andrea Schleeper.

Schleeper finished 18th at regionals last year with a 96, one shot away from qualifying for sectionals, while Ott took 22nd and was two shots away from qualifying for sectionals. Schleeper shot a 90 to take seventh in the Big Eight Conference meet last year.

Curtis got her first glimpse at the team in practice this week.

“There is a lot of experience on the team and it’s a good group of girls that all get along,” she said. “The sky is the limit.”

Curtis had the Wildcats play rounds during the first three days of practice to get an initial lineup set for the season-opening tournament in Brown Deer on Friday.

“I think we will play a lot of rounds so we can get as many rounds under our belts as we can,” she said.

One area Curtis wants the team to work on is the short game.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t work on my short game enough,” she said. “I’m really going to focus on the short game. If they really develop that, it will really help them.”

Curtis wrapped up her career with the Badgers in 2018 with the second-best career scoring average in program history (74.65 strokes per 18 holes). The Eau Claire native was second-team all-Big Ten and finished 18th at the Big Ten Championships as a senior. She now works as a real estate agent at Bunbury Associates in Madison.

“Golf has always been a really big part of my life, and after I graduated, I had more time for coaching,” she said.