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South Warren’s Faith Martin watches her tee shot during the final round of the KHSAA Girls’ State Golf Tournament on Oct. 10 at Bowling Green Country Club.

Adam Gary and the Western Kentucky women’s golf team this week landed one of the top prospects in the state, and one that South Warren coach Eric Holeman said will walk out as “the greatest girls’ golfer South has ever had.”

Faith Martin signed this week to stay close to home and continue her golf career with the Lady Toppers, and she celebrated the event with a drive-in style signing at South Warren on Thursday.

“Western has become really successful over the last few years,” Martin said. “Coach Gary has really built up the program and I’m just very fortunate that I’ve got the opportunity to play for him.”

Martin isn’t just one of the best – or the best – to come out of South Warren, but also the region. She recorded 16 high school invitational wins as a varsity golfer, was named First-Team All-State for three years and won five Hurricane Junior Golf Tour events.

She also claimed five VanMeter Cup titles and appeared in six KHSAA State Golf Tournaments, placing as high as third and finishing in the top 10 three other times. She placed sixth in this year’s season-ending event to help the Spartans to back-to-back runner-up finishes.

Despite the individual success, it’s the team success that stood out the most to her and her coach. She points to winning the region tournament her freshman year when South Warren was “not favored at all” as her most memorable moment, and Holeman recalls her final region tournament.

“At the turn we were trailing Glasgow by four strokes, and we started gaining ground the 15th, 16th, 17th holes and ultimately passed them and went ahead to win, but every time I was checking on Faith, she was like, ‘How are we doing team-wise?’ I said, ‘We’re fine, no worries,’ “ Holeman said. “Even walking up on the last hole, she was like, ‘How are we doing team-wise?’ I said, ‘We’ve got this, no problem.’ And she was like, ‘Are you sure? You’re not joking with me?’ And I said, ‘No, just finish out and let’s celebrate.’ “

Holeman is quick to answer when asked about the reason for Martin’s success on the golf course – “Work ethic. Bottom line.” If Martin struggled at a tournament, he says, she would go straight to the driving range or putting green if there was still enough daylight, and if not, she’d be there the next day at the latest fine-tuning her skills and seeking perfection.

“I was her coach the last four years, and I’ll tell you what – to have a front-row seat to watch this girl excel at this sport has been an absolute joy,” Holeman said. “This girl’s prep work and dedication to this sport is undeniable.”

Now, Martin will continue her career close to home in Bowling Green. Her decision came down to the Lady Toppers and one of Western Kentucky’s biggest rivals before she made her choice.

“I had just came back from a visit at Middle Tennessee and I texted coach Gary and I said, ‘Let’s go back and meet again,’ and that night I said, ‘That’s it, I’m going to Western,’ “ said Martin, who announced her commitment Aug. 30, 2019, on Twitter.

She’ll be heading to her new team early. Martin made a “spur of the moment decision” to graduate early and enroll at WKU in January after the idea was posed by her swing coach.

Gary said in a news release WKU is “really excited to have an excellent in-state golfer like Faith join our program,” and added that coming in January will allow her to learn from the team’s upperclassmen before next fall.

Martin will soon just be on the other side of Bowling Green, and in his speech during Thursday’s signing ceremony, Holeman said she’d always be welcome back to help the next group of players chasing her records.

“It’s hard to talk about history with South Warren being such a new school – this is the 11th year,” Holeman said to Martin during his speech, “but you created history for this school, and it’s going to be hard for younger kids, younger girls, the next generation, to follow you, because it’s almost unreachable.”{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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