Perhaps there has never been a time when Taylor Bandley, a senior at Pine View High school, didn’t feel at home on a golf course. Her mother, Jamie Bandley, says Taylor has been gathering crowds to watch her since she was eight years old. “People couldn’t believe how a little girl could hit a ball like that,” Jamie says.
And Taylor, who got her start with the Junior Association of Golf (JAG), has only gotten better. This will be her fourth year bringing her skill and determination to the Pine View women’s golf team. Serving as the team captain this year, Taylor hopes to see Pine View take another step towards the top.
The team has already seen success in the years Taylor has been a part of it, starting with taking second place overall in the state competition her freshman year. Taylor herself came in at 8th that year, proceeding to take 5th her sophomore year, and 2nd her junior year.
Additionally, Taylor has been on the all-state team all three years of her high school career. She has held the title of JAG Player of the Year six times, and is an Interstate Battery Utah Long Drive women’s champion.
Her father, Ryan Bandley, adds, “She qualified first and took third.” Ryan also notes that Taylor competed in the women’s division, rather than in the junior age bracket.
Taylor’s golf career has not been without challenges, and having a competitive spirit can be both a blessing and a hurdle. “It’s always a rollercoaster with a golf game,” she says. “It pretty much changes every day. You have good days where it’s clicking, and you have other days where everything is going wrong.”
“The best part of golf is that if your team is in the top four, then you can go together to state. We’ve gone as a team all three years that I’ve been there, and that’s been super fun.“
Jamie adds, “She’s had to learn to control her emotions. She just wants to be good so bad that she gets angry. We’ve had to work on that so she can stay focused.”
Taylor agrees that golf brings out all kinds of emotions in her, but Jamie is quick to add, “I think she got that worked out last year at the state golf tournament. As she was going into the last hole, she was in the lead, and then they ended up tying. It was a sudden death playoff, and it was emotionally draining and stressful.” Taylor ended up in second place, but Jamie says, “She handled it like a champ.”
Because of her willingness to own up to her mistakes and her competitiveness, Taylor likes that golf is an individual sport. “I like that I can’t blame anyone for my mistakes,” she says, adding, “It’s just all about me. If I want to be great, I can. I don’t have to rely on other people.”
But she thinks being on a team isn’t so bad, either. “It’s also nice to play with other people in high school because not a lot of people do what we do as girl golfers. It’s nice to have that set of friends alongside my other school friends.”
Taylor has had many mentors as she’s developed her game. The first person she gives credit to is her father. She recalls all the times he gave in to her begging and took her to the golf course. “He’s pretty much been my swing coach the whole way through,” Taylor says. “I’ve gone to a lot of people, but he’s the one I always come back to.”
“She’s had a lot of good coaches,” Bryan says. “But it’s just been fun that we can get out and do it together.”
Taylor is grateful for those who have helped her along the way, and strives to pay it forward as she serves others. Mentioning that she is surrounded by a “golf family” in the community, Taylor returns the favor of their support by taking time to work with their children who are younger than her.
However, giving pointers to younger golfers isn’t the only way she supports other athletes. “I really like volunteering for the marathon,” Taylor says. “I try to do as much as I can to fit it in.” If you run the St. George Marathon, look for Taylor at one of the aid stations. She’d be happy to hand you some water.
One of the most rewarding things Taylor does for others doesn’t happen on a golf course or a race rout, it happens in school. “I really like to peer tutor,” she says. Each school day Taylor spends one period working with her special needs peers. She says that is her favorite class. “Those kids are awesome. They make my day every time I see them.”
As for strictly academic subjects, Taylor enjoys math. “I’ve just been able to do it,” she says, noting that many people struggle with the subject. “I’ve always had great math teachers, so that helps.”
Taylor, who currently has a 3.8 GPA, realizes that academics are important for her future. “I just know that grades are super important,” she says. Jamie adds, “We’ve learned grades are a big part of athletic scholarships. The coaches want to know that you can keep your grades up before they want to talk to you.
It may seem that a busy athlete might have difficulty keeping a high academic standard, but Taylor says her athletics only make her do better. “It keeps me up on my grades,” she says. “I noticed after my freshman year when I didn’t play basketball, it would be so nice to come home and not do anything.” All that relaxing was nice, but it took a toll on her grades. Taylor continues, “I could see my grades kind of slipping that first quarter and it was like a wakeup call.”
She contrasts this with when she is busy with sports. “When you’re in sports you always have to be on top of your [academic] game and make sure your teachers get your stuff in,” she says, adding that if you don’t get your homework done, you don’t get to compete.
At DSU Taylor plans to study either psychology or nutrition. Psychology because she is interested in what makes people tick, and nutrition because, “I’m super into eating healthy and working out.”
Working hard at school and on the golf course is paying off for Taylor. She has accepted a scholarship to play golf for DSU next year.
While she says professions in those areas would be great, her ultimate career would be to play golf professionally. “That would be awesome,” she says. “But I’m always going to have a back-up plan of psychology or nutrition.”
“She’s a competitor,” Ryan says. He notes that she is the first one there before a tournament, and the last one to leave.
With the determination and dedication Taylor exhibits, she is sure to continue to have success athletically and academically. Perhaps Taylor’s little sister, Brynlee, sums Taylor up best when she says, “She never gives up.” • HSSI