Koecher’s consistency is key to her state golf run

Even when the Barnum senior misfires, she moves on because “every shot is a new shot.”

Barnum senior Delaney Koecher tees off on the driving range Friday, June 11, 2021, at Cloquet Country Club while practicing for the Minnesota Class A tournament June 15-16. (Jamey Malcomb /

Each time Barnum senior Delaney Koecher hit a tee shot during practice at Cloquet Country Club Friday, June 11, her process was exactly the same.

After placing the ball on the tee, she measured the ball’s height against the face of her driver, and then she stepped back and took a practice swing. Then she stepped in, reset her feet and swung her club in a smooth, but controlled and deliberate manner.

The results were, unsurprisingly, strikingly similar. Straight shots landing about 200 yards away that would be in the fairway in almost any course in the region.

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Barnum senior Delaney Koecher sets up for a putt on the practice green Friday, June 11, 2021, at Cloquet Country Club. (Jamey Malcomb /

Koecher’s attention to detail and pre-shot process have produced not only the straight shots every golfer is looking for, but also a second straight Class A state tournament appearance.

“She is consistent, she does not spray the ball right or left,” Barnum coach Brent Donaldson said. “She’s not the longest hitter and we’ve been working on that in preparation for state to try to get a little bit of extra distance off the tee. I really haven’t had another golfer in the program that’s hit it as consistently straight as Delaney. I don’t have to worry about her getting into trouble.”

Koecher said her parents introduced her to the game when she was younger and she became interested in playing competitively watching her brother, Lucas, play when he was at Barnum. She joined the team as a seventh-grader and it wasn’t long before she was hooked and had started to develop her process.

“It’s definitely a big challenge,” Koecher said. “Every shot you have your list of things you go through in your head — every single shot.”

Since finishing fourth at the Section 7A tournament May 26-27 at the Virginia Golf Course, Koecher has been practicing at Cloquet Country Club. Donaldson said the Cloquet course is similar to Pebble Creek Golf Club where the Class A tournament began Tuesday, June 15 and continues Wednesday, June 16.

Barnum golf coaches Trish Manahan (back, left) and Brent Donaldson watch as senior Delaney Koecher lines up a putt on the practice green Friday, June 11, 2021, at Cloquet Country Club. (Jamey Malcomb /


Koecher said Donaldson and assistant Coach Trish Manahan have been working to help minimize errant shots and keep them from compounding and creating more bad shots.

“One of our biggest challenges as coaches is to get them to realize ‘OK, that shot’s done, you can’t do anything about it,’” Donaldson said. “Let’s not turn a bad shot into a bad hole or a bad hole into a bad round. We stress that a lot to our players, and Delaney is one not to let things compound.”

Koecher said Donaldson and Manahan have helped her with tips about her form as well as moving on from any mistakes she makes on the course.

“A lot of times it helps when I know what I’m doing wrong,” Koecher said. “Trish will tell me ‘just pull it back more’ or ‘you’re picking your head up’ or something like that and it helps to know what I’m doing wrong. But like they always say, every shot is a new shot and you just have to keep looking ahead.”

After the state tournament, Koecher plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior to study early education. She also said she’s been talking with women’s golf coach Paul Eberhardt about playing for the Yellowjackets next year.

Koecher shot a first round 97 on Tuesday, June 15, good enough to tie for 33rd place heading into the second round. Donaldson said he felt like Koecher "left a few strokes" out on the course, but at just four strokes out of 20th position, he was hopeful she would improve and possibly come out with a top 20 finish after the second round. Koecher teed off at 7:48 a.m. Wednesday, June 16.

This story was updated at 8:45 a.m. June 16 with additional information from Koecher's first round at the Class A tournament. It was originally posted at 10:39 a.m. June 16.


Barnum senior Delaney Koecher envisions the line of her put on the practice green at Cloquet County Club Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jamey Malcomb /

Barnum senior Delaney Koecher envisions the line of her put on the practice green at Cloquet County Club Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jamey Malcomb /

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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