The Golfing Gunters

Ramsey and Rylei Gunter are seen here with their late grandmother, Maxiene “Nana” Little. After injuries and subsequent surgeries moved the girls away from basketball, Nana talked them into trying golf — eventually setting in motion Oklahoma Christian Academy’s first-ever girls varsity golf roster.

Four years ago, Rylei and Ramsey Gunter moved away from Hinton, Okla. and landed at Oklahoma Christian Academy in Edmond. Rylei was in 8th grade, Ramsey in 6th, and the sisters had barely given golf a thought. The town of Hinton had recently closed down their only golf course, and the two were focused on basketball.

When they started at OCA, the school didn’t even have a girls golf team. Three years later, the sisters are competing beside each other and a full-rostered team.

After a regional runner-up finish on Wednesday afternoon, the girls hope to make a run at next week’s state tournament.

The Gunter sisters didn’t always have a passion for golf. Despite the fact it was a family sport, they primarily played basketball. But basketball had its toll. After Rylei was forced into shoulder surgery —and Ramsey undergoing two knee surgeries herself — it looked like a change was needed. The sisters were on the fence about what to do next, when their Nana convinced them to give golf a try. Even though she recently passed, the girls are still reminded of her every time they’re on the course. “She wanted us to go play at college, she wanted us to play in state, so that’s kind’ve my goal is to fulfill what she would’ve wanted for us,” Ramsey said.

Rylei began golfing her freshman year, competing as an independent entry after Academy couldn’t find the bodies to fill out a full, five-girl roster. Meanwhile, Ramsey was able to find one willing participant for her then-junior high squad.

But, just one year after starting their golf careers at Academy, another girl joined Rylei in high school, and Ramsey recruited an entire junior high team.

“We went up to everyone” Rylei said on recruiting a team to play. “We just talked to them about the opportunities that could happen if we decided to golf together. I mentioned state and how much potential could be there for us as a team, how much fun we’d have — even days off at school.”

Now, each in their third year golfing at OCA, Rylei and Ramsey are competing together on the first ever high school girls golf team in school history.

“Rylei made it to state as an individual, so I’m sure that sparked the interest of a lot of people going into it,” Ramsey said of her older sister. “Now that they’ve seen the potential in Rylei and in state, I think they’ve seen that they have potential to go to state too.”

This year, the Gunters have not only been competing against other schools, but also with each other. In their first tournament of the year, Rylei placed 2nd at Sapulpa, with Ramsey right behind her at 4th. In the next tournament, Ramsey finished 3rd — just one spot ahead of Rylei.

“Sometimes Rylei will beat Ramsey and sometimes Ramsey will beat Rylei,” Jenni Gunter, the sisters’ mom, said. “There is competition. Of course they want to beat the other, but they’re also each other’s biggest fan. They want the other one to do very well.” 

Rylei is currently averaging a score of 82 in her junior season, and has three 2nd place finishes at Sapulpa, Kingfisher and Guthrie. Ramsey is averaging an 89 and already has 3rd and 4th place finishes as a freshman.

Rylei’s and Ramsey’s competitiveness has seemed to carry over to the entire OCA golf team, too, which qualified for the state tournament in their first season of existence.

The success started early, and a high-place finish from earlier this season may give them an edge come next week. In just their second tournament as a team, Rylei, Ramsey, Tresha Yager, Dericca Rogers, and Madi Jones placed 3rd at Cimarron National Golf Club’s Aqua Canyon golf course in Guthrie.

Aqua Canyon is the site for the 2019 Class 2A State Tournament next week May 1-2.

Making the state tournament with the first girls golf team in school history might have seemed unlikely, but with the Golfing Gunters, anything seems possible.