Published: Friday, April 2, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Until now, that is.
Rice enjoyed a nice high school career at Central and signed a golf scholarship with the University of Mobile in 2006. During her first two years, Rice played well for the Rams, averaging in the high 70s. Like a light bulb being turned on in her head, Rice said something clicked between her sophomore and junior years. And now, with her college career winding down, Rice has a renewed vigor for a possible career in golf.
She's won five tournaments in a row dating back to the fall, and the business management and marketing major has her sights set on the upcoming NAIA national tournament.
"My freshman and sophomore year, I was just out there playing," Rice said in a phone interview last week. "The last two years my mindset toward golf changed. My love for the game changed. I started caring more and practicing more. I realized what I could do with it. I thought if I worked hard, something good might come from it."
Like the majority of junior golfers from the Shoals, Rice is a disciple of former Florence Golf and Country Club professional Chris Burns. She's worked with him since she was seven and credits him with helping shape her game
Although her game is evolving in Mobile and Burns is in Florence, Rice frequently calls her mentor for advice.
"He knows my swing so well," Rice said. "I can call him and explain something to him and he'll tell me what he thinks I need to do."
Rice hasn't been doing much wrong this season. With a stroke average of 74.8, Rice is in line to make a third trip to the NAIA national tournament in May.
Coach Maggie Blaylock said when Rice graduates, she will be considered one of the best to play at the University of Mobile.
"Maegan works so hard on her game," Blaylock said. "She puts so much time an energy into practice. She's out there every day and she stays after practice."
Rice had a top-10 finish in the NAIA national tournament as a freshman, but didn't qualify as a sophomore. Blaylock said missing the national tournament that year sparked Rice's desire.
"She had a taste of success and set some high goals for herself," Blaylock said. "As a sophomore, she had a wake-up call and since then, she has bought into what she needs to do to attain her goals."
Rice carries a 74.8 stroke average in 13 rounds this season, and consistency has been a key. She has two rounds of 70 and has been over 75 only three times.
"I've spent a lot of time working on my short game and putting," Rice said. "That's where I lose a lot of my strokes. I haven't changed my swing much at all, and I've been hitting my irons really well."
Rice will try to extend her streak of titles next week at Bash at the Beach in Daytona Beach, Fla. After that, it's the conference tournament and nationals as she ends her college career.