ILH golf champion Shayna Lu on preparation, pandemic and a little luck

The going got tough on the greens of Pearl Country Club, but Shayna Lu of Punahou emerged as ILH girls champion. Photo courtesy of Shayna Lu.

The champions list of golf in high school golf in Hawaii is limited in 2021.

Shayna Lu considers herself fortunate after taking the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title at Pearl Country Club.

“I shot 74. I was two-under through nine, but I had four consecutive bogeys in the back. It was a little windy towards the end,” the senior said. “I didn’t really know how much I was ahead by. I didn’t know I was leading until say my 15th or 16th hole. I heard one of the coaches say, ‘You’re one back.’”

Lu edged sophomore Nicole Tanoue of ‘Iolani for the girls individual crown. She was prepared for PCC, a place she had become more familiar with the course coming into the ILH finals.

“I wouldn’t say I have a home course, but I just started practicing at Pearl. I used to practice at Koolau (Golf Course), but over COVID, they closed.”

That prep strategy was key.

“The greens at Pearl are just really tricky. It’s kind of just luck if it goes it. It’s hard to predict. They have patches of different grass, so it’s tricky. The greens are hard to read and control,” Lu said. “In order to do good at golf, you have to have some luck. It’s such a small hole. Your main objective is to get it in this tiny little cup. You need luck.”

That perspective is why Lu believes the title was up for grabs.

“When you tell someone you play golf, they might say you are the best on your team, but I think our team, we’re all on the same level. It’s just who’s had the better day,” she said.

She never lost her patience. Never lost her sense of humor. The list had her named “Cham-Shayna Lu,” it looked like a hyphenated first name. Cham, as in champion. She couldn’t help but laugh.

“If ‘Cham-Shayna’ happened more often, I would love it,” she said.

Punahou captured the girls team championship.

Punahou won the ILH girls golf team championship at Pearl Country Club. Photo courtesy of Shayna Lu.

Lu retraced her high school career as evidence.

“In 2018, I wasn’t on the team yet. We had too many girls. I was on Varsity II. After that (in 2019), I think I was fourth in ILH,” said Lu, who finished 12th in the state tournament.

The cancelled 2020 season was a challenge for all golfers. Lu found a way to stay active.

“In the beginning, it was so hectic going to school and practice every day, having to study. It’s really tiring, so when I found out everything was shutting down, then it was a break for two weeks. Online learning,” she said. “There was a time when everything was closed, then some places started opening. It was hard to practice when you don’t know when your next tournament is.”

In all, she kept moving.

“I think I only took a break for a couple of weeks, in April, probably. I definitely had to get out of the house. I would go on rides or walks with my family. We would walk every evening our you’d go crazy,” Lu said. “It was also hard because golf is such a muscle memory thing. If you don’t do it for awhile, you can’t feel your swing.”

Some golfers managed to fabricate some kind of apparatus in the back yard. Not Lu.

“I have a little putting mat, but there’s a lot of people who have back yards, so they can swing. I live in an apartment complex, so there’s no space to do anything,” Lu said.

There was one plus during the down time.

“I did the whole recruitment thing during quarantine. I did resumes and my tournament scores, sent them videos. A lot of emailing and talking on the phone with coaches,” Lu said. “I actually committed to Seattle University without seeing the school. I have a lot of friends who’ve seen the school. They say it’s a nice place. It’s a really young, modern place. There’s also a lot of ‘Iolani and Punahou people who go there.”

Quarantine was also a way to bond with teammates and friends in a creative way.

“We worked out a lot over FaceTime. We had a set time where we would work out together. I think that’s kind of what saved us. That definitely helped, the physical aspect of it,” Lu said.

Punahou played in eight league tournaments in ’21.

“Because we have so many girls, we can only play in four of them. You need a good average, so none of us can have a bad round,” she said.

Lu averaged 72.75, lowest among the Buffanblu girls. She carded a 66 at Hawaii Prince Golf Club, the second site on the ILH schedule this spring.

Down the road, the plan is wide open.

“I think when I applied to (Seattle), I wrote international business as a major,” she said. “I speak Mandarin, as well, but I’m not at 100 percent yet. I grew up speaking it with my parents and I took it in high school for four years.”

Golf and heritage have merged together over time in the Lu family.

“I love traveling. I used to go to Taiwan every year when I was little, but with golf, you play tournaments during breaks. The last time I was there was four years ago. My grandpa golfs,” she said.

Lu’s interest in the game surged after her brother, former Moanalua golfer Shawn Lu, went to Oregon State.

“They’re doing pretty good. They just made the NCAA tournament. I started playing after he left for college. I started late. I would hit the ball around at the range, but I wasn’t in any tournaments. Once he left, (my parents) focused on me,” she said. “You have to really like it. If you play a tournament, that’s the whole day.”

Golf is a bridge for the children and their father, Scott.

“I used to play at Ala Wai a lot with my dad. We talk about golf a lot. My brother would call from college about everything else. Cooking, laundry, but he only talks to my dad about golf. It’s the same for me,” Lu said.

All of it added up into an new equation and perspective for the champ.

“I don’t get nervous that much for tournaments anymore. I kind of just enjoy the game. Relax and play. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because I committed already and it’s senior year. Probably a little bit of everything,” Lu said. “I’ve played in tournaments hundreds of times, but this year’s kind of different. The ILH (regular-season) tournaments, we were playing as a team, so I was playing with my teammates the whole season. That made it seem more casual, like practice, more fun.”

Shayna Lu’s Lockdown Staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “Vampire Diaries.”

2. “Gossip Girls.”

3. “Friends.”

“All of these shows, I rewatched.”

Top 3 food/snack/drinks

1. Beef Noodle Soup, homemade by my mom (Serena).

“You’ve got to let the soup kind of marinate overnight. She’d make it two or three times a month. You let the carrots and the meat simmer in the soup.”

2. Beef pho (by mom).

“The time and effort it takes, my mom is a really good cook, so that’s that’s something I’ll definitely make when I go to college. But it’s intimidating. ”

3. Pasta.

“It’s called the vodka sauce, but without vodka. I go on Tik Tok a lot and there’s a lot of viral cooking videos. I definitely made more food during lockdown. I made more pasta, ate a lot of popcorn. I went through an obsession with popcorn. I just kept eating it. I would crave it.”

Top 3 music artists

1. Bazzi – “Honest.”

2. One Direction – “Fool’s Gold.”

3. Taylor Swift – “Red.”

New life skill: Cooking, got a driver’s license.

GPA: 3.85.

“At Punahou, they don’t weigh it with AP or honors classes. They really just want to give you the raw grade.”

Shout outs

“I’ll shout out my high school team. I just like hanging out with them, working out and we used to have team dinners before the pandemic. We would go after practice to Mama PHO in Aiea Haina. We used to practice at Hawaii Kai. We used to go to Pieology (Pizzeria) a lot.”


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