Meyerink family brings passion for golf to Mitchell program
Jeff Meyerink, a Mitchell native and SDGA staple, uses his knowledge to help lead his daughter, Allison, and a confident group of girls on the Kernels' girls golf team
MITCHELL – The Meyerinks are no stranger to the South Dakota golf scene.
Jeff Meyerink, a Mitchell native, has been a staple on the state’s competitive golf scene for years; a four-year varsity player for the Kernels from 1995-98, Meyerink went on to play for the Dakota Wesleyan golf team, regularly played South Dakota Golf Association and Dakotas Tour over the past two decades.
Now, citing the desire to pass his knowledge of the game onto the next generation, Meyerink has taken over as head coach of the Mitchell girls golf program after spending last season as the assistant coach.
While that allows him to pass his knowledge of the game of golf onto a confident group of girls coming off their best season in program history, it also gives him the special opportunity to coach his daughter, sophomore Allison Meyerink, one of the top performers on the team.
Jeff has been integral in Allison’s progression into golf and while Meyerink makes sure to treat all his players the same, there is an unquestionable bond between not just dad and daughter, but player-to-player when it comes to Jeff and Allison.
“Watching him play and taking pointers from him, learning from him,” Allison said. “It really helps me improve a lot.”
Both found a love for golf early on in their lives, with both saying they have been playing for as long as they can remember.
“I started when I was five or six years old, just hitting balls around the yard,” Jeff said. “Finally got to the point where my parents would let me go to the golf course and was basically there any time I could be.”
“I started playing golf whenever I could when I was younger,” said Allison, reflecting on her start in the game. “My dad gave me a lot of pointers on how to fix my swing and start golf in general.”
Injuries forced Jeff Meyerink to give up professional golf after four years, but he still remembers his time on the tour fondly.
“It is a very competitive field, but I am glad I did it. Great experience,” Jeff said.
Watching her dad play as both an amateur and a professional from a young age made it easy for Allison to be drawn to the game. As early as she can remember, she was picking clubs and trying to improve.
As a competitor, she said it was only natural for her to take golf more seriously as she grew older. In 2017, the father-daughter duo combined to win the SDGA Adult-Junior Championship, shooting a combined score of 85 to claim the age 11-and-under division crown. Around then, Allison really started to ramp up her improvement.
She has been on the Kernels’ varsity team since she was a seventh-grader and, now a sophomore, is one of the more experienced members of the team. She has already started 2022 strong, leading the way in the team’s first competition of the year with a team-best score of 81 at the Harrisburg Invitational on April 11.
The transition from dad to coach
Jeff has never considered himself a coach, rather just someone willing to help anyone that wanted to start playing the game.
“If you get off to the wrong start or get discouraged, it’s a hard game the way it is,” Jeff said. “If you don’t have the support or know how to get better, it's probably not something you’re going to see a lot of kids stick with.”
However, that changed when he took over the assistant coach job for the Mitchell girls’ golf last year, helping lead the team to a runner-up finish at the Class AA state tournament last May, the best finish in school history. Allison played a role in that second-place finish as a freshman, shooting a 168 over two rounds to finish tied for 18th overall.
She says having her dad as a coach has been a huge help for her competitive game, seeing as she has a coach that has known her swing since she started, but he also pushes her to get better every day.
“He’s a little harder on me, which helps me because it helps me get better and better,” Allison said.
Jeff said the team has some high expectations for this season, but fully believes the girls can achieve them based on how hard they work and how they respect the game.
“As a coach, that is really all you can ask,” Jeff said. “You have to have mutual respect, trust and understanding between player and coach.”