Category - Amateur Programs
The Sander Twins Take On PGA's High School Golf National Invitational Together
By Mandy Crow
Twins Alysen and Aidan Sander played a lot of sports growing up — competitive cheer, softball and golf, to name a few.
But when the sisters had to choose between softball and golf ahead of their freshman year of high school, the answer was clear.
“We did competitive cheer for a really long time when we were younger,” Alysen said, “but when we had to choose, we chose golf.”
And the pair has never looked back.
Nebraska natives and identical twins — Aidan is just a smidge older than Alysen — the girls just completed their senior year of high school. As Lincoln Southwest Silver Hawks, they’ve shared the stage at district and state competitions. This week, they’re both competing at the PGA High School Golf National Invitational at PGA Frisco in Texas.
It’s the first invitation for either golfer, and the Sander sisters are excited by the opportunity to experience the tournament together.
“It's been super exciting to play in the National Invitational,” Alysen said. “It’s a great opportunity and definitely the biggest tournament we’ve played in. It's fun to have my sister here with me, too.”
The girls’ love for the game started early, but simply.
“Our dad had picked up golf as a hobby in his 20s, and our older brother has golfed his whole life,” Alysen recalled. “So, Dad would put us in kiddie clinics and such when we were growing up.”
Over the years, the sisters say, golf has helped to teach them some valuable lessons both on and off the course.
“A big thing I’ve learned in golf is to have a calm mindset and not to get worked up if you mess up,” Aidan said. “In life, you can’t control what happens or what other people do, so you have to calm down and not get worked up.”
Alysen, who dreams of becoming a physical therapist, says the sport has helped teach her patience.
“I’ve had to learn to be patient and not overthink things just because I don’t do well on a hole,” she said. “You can’t let that get into your head.”
The Sander sisters have seen their share of success during their high school careers. The Lincoln Southwest team took home the state championship title during the girls’ freshman year and ranked fourth the following year and won again their junior year. In fall 2022, the Sander sisters rolled into their senior year ready to reclaim the state title for the Lincoln Southwest Silver Hawks.
But there was one small hiccup.
“Our high school golf team was fortunate to have six players who could step in at any time and play,” said Alysen, who usually played No. 2 or 3. “Midway through the season, I started developing pain in my shoulder.”
On the advice of the school’s athletic trainer, Alysen sat out a few tournaments hoping she’d be well enough to play at the state championship. So Aidan stepped up, helping the team win both the conference and district tournaments. While Aidan had qualified to play at state by placing at districts, state rules only allowed five players on each team for the state championship.
Rather than be upset, Aidan chose to cheer for the teammates she’d played alongside all year.
“There was no point in getting upset,” Aidan said. “I knew I could still be there with the team and still cheer them on.”
“I definitely felt bad because I was playing and she wasn’t,” Alysen added. “But I’m really glad that Aidan and I will get to play together in college.”
Aidan and Alysen have both committed to golf at Morningside University, a private liberal arts college located in Sioux City, Iowa. While the sisters are looking forward to experiencing new coaching styles and fresh competition, they’re mostly looking forward to embracing the experience together.
“I’m really excited to play together in college,” Aidan said. “We always practice together, so we always have someone to compete against when we’re practicing. It makes golf more fun and helps us get into that competitive mindset.”