THE FINCHER SISTERS HAVE GROWN UP AROUND THE SPORT OF GOLF, LIVING ON CHAMPIONS GOLF CLUB IN NORTH HOUSTON.
"It was great living on a course," Anna Claire said. "If we got bored, we could go out back and play four holes really quick. We've been surrounded by the golf community since we were really young. Our dad is like a two-handicap, so he really got us into the game. Individual sports just appealed to us more." Ellie started learning the game at an early age as well, carrying on the family tradition. "Our whole family plays golf," Ellie said. "We go out together in the evening. It's given us a lot of great family-time over the years."
Since being at Frassati Catholic, the Finchers have carried the banner for the golf program. In 2017, Anna Claire won her first TAPPS state title…as a freshman. "It has to be my most memorable moment," she said. "I went five-under on the last four holes and won state. I was that quiet kid, right? It was really exciting and I didn't expect that."
She would win a state crown again as a sophomore and finished second as a junior. Her senior year was cut short due to COVID-19, but she left a lasting legacy on the program. Making her own legacy is Ellie, who enters her junior season. She placed fifth overall at state as a freshman in 2019. "My greatest memory so far was winning the Regional Tournament my freshman year by one stroke," Ellie said. "We had moved up to Class 5A and weren't expected to do much that year. With Anna Claire moving on, it's going to be a lot harder. I've never had to take the role of the leader, but I look forward to the opportunity."
While the two are close, they are also somewhat competitive. "It's hard because I'm younger and I didn't really want to beat her," Ellie laughed. "We did push each other to become better." Anne Claire added straight-faced: "I would never live that down if I came back to school and she had beaten me."
The sport has taken the two internationally, playing in Ireland and their favorite player is Tiger Woods. "We like the men's game more," Anna Claire said. The pair also tag along with their father on his other favorite activities. "We grew up shooting guns and archery," Anna Claire said. "Anything outdoors, especially fishing." Anna Claire is off to Texas A&M where she will study engineering to work in the "oil fields of Texas one day". What about Ellie? "I'll probably go to Texas A&M," she said. "It's close to home and she will be there."
Birds of a feather, flock together.
JENNY MURDOCK LOOKS BACK ON HER LIFE SPENT ON THE GOLF COURSE AS SHE EMBARKS ON HER COACHING CAREER AT SECOND BAPTIST SCHOOL WITH AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE.
"I wish I would have enjoyed it more," she said. "I wish I didn't take it so seriously. My dad took it extremely seriously. I was always a grinder, and he really pushed me. It led me to tremendous success. I see some younger players with that look in their eyes. They have enormous pressure on them at an early age. I want to make sure those kids, and all of my players, have fun on the golf course."
Murdock was wildly successful at Westwood High School in Austin. She led her team to a state title as a senior and won every tournament she played that year. She also met her husband at Westwood – Mark Murdock. Both would play their respective sports at the University of Texas. Mark was the quarterback for the Longhorns and Jenny led the golf team, who won the Southwestern Conference her senior year. She won that tourney as an individual.
"Mark would work so hard at two-a-days going into the football season," she laughed. "He'd work hard all day, while I was going to Hawaii to play a golf tournament. He always thought he picked the wrong sport!"
"My most memorable moment was qualifying for the U.S. Open while I was in college," she continued. "It was at Oakmont and I wasn't ready for it, but it was a blast. There were big crowds and my dad caddied for me."
Jenny played a few years in the LPGA before starting a family. She has three sons, Mark, Drew and Turner. Mark and Drew played multiple sports at Stratford High School and Turner will be a freshman at Second Baptist School.
"We wanted Turner to have a different path," she said. "We decided that SBS would be the place we would send Turner. We loved the combination of a commitment to excellence and a Christ-centered atmosphere.
Fate would have it that SBS was looking for a golf coach." She interviewed for the position and got the job as the varsity golf coach.
"I had been the touring pro at The Woodlands and had done some teaching, but nothing like this," she said. "It's really exciting. The men won state last year, but several graduated so we will rebuild this year."
She sees herself in many of the players on her team.
"I'm a very competitive person," she said. "But I have a different perspective after being a mom to my three sons. I've seen it all and am just more laid back now. All kids are different. Some are very competitive and love the sport, some start too early and get burned out. Some don't love tournament golf and posting a score at the end of their round. You can learn so much from the sport and I'm just trying to nurture that while having fun doing it."