Faith McIlvain, 2020, Marriotts Ridge High School
by Nelson Coffin
Faith McIlvian doesn’t mind coming up short on a golf course.
After all, the former Marriotts Ridge standout is at her best with a putter or wedge in her hands.
Her short game, she said, “is the sharpest part of my game,” helping her to win back-to-back Class 1A/2A individual state championships — one of only three girls from the Baltimore Metro Area to achieve that feat during the decade — while anchoring three state title teams under Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs.
To show just how far ahead she was of her 1A/2A competitors even without the benefit of a booming driver, McIlvain captured the 2018 crown by a whopping 13 strokes after also finishing first in the Howard County and regional tournaments.
“I’m average off the tee,” McIlvain said. “So my short game has helped me to save pars and make birdies.”
The putter really came in handy in her senior year when McIlvain secured her third consecutive Howard County championship while edging Centennial’s Morgan Taylor by dropping a 5-footer into the cup on the final hole.
“That was a lot of pressure,” VSN’s No. 2 Girls Golfer of the Decade said. “Because so much was on the line.”
That same year, she fired consecutive 74s to earn a tie for sixth in the 3A/4A individual girls tournament after falling five strokes behind North Point’s Bailey Davis and Churchill’s Kaylin Yeoh.
She battled her way back during the round to draw even with the former leaders after carding a birdie on the ninth hole, although three-time winner Davis eventually prevailed.
Even so, McIlvian, who took District V honors by four strokes over Howard High’s Logan Lurie, had to be proud of her effort in her initial foray against 3A/4A competitors by slicing five strokes from her winning score in the lower classification as a junior.
McIlvian was a little bit of a late bloomer, whose game grew rapidly.
Her career really took off in 2016, the first year that she became interested in the sport.
That season McIlvian was named the Middle Atlantic Junior Golfer of the Year for the 12-14 age group after finishing in the top-10 of all eight events she entered.
She went on to claim amateur age-group championships at the Montgomery Open and the Baltimore Open in 2019 and the Chartwell Golf & Country Club Classic, the Sparrows Point Country Club Classic and the Rolling Road Golf Club Classic in 2018 and the Turf Valley Golf Club Classic in 2017.
McIlvian, whose mental acuity complemented her technique on the course, added five second-place showings to her résumé during that successful span.
“Faith was a technician,” said VSN’s MPSSAA Golf Coach of the Decade Mark Dubbs, who coached McIlvain at Marriotts Ridge. “She was always thinking three strokes ahead.”
Her collegiate career at Towson University is still in its infancy, given the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
As a freshman, she competed in all four events for the Tigers averaging 82.1 over 11 rounds with a low of 77 in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.