New Year's Day is known as a time to start anew, an opportunity to put the past away and concentrate on what's to come.
Not many situations fit that bill as perfectly as that of Ashlan and Taylor Ramsey.
On Jan. 1, the sisters and their parents, Al and Carla, moved from Martinez to Bradenton, Fla., so the pair could hone their golf skills at what many consider as the nation's top junior golf academy.
Both admitted feeling a bit overwhelmed after reaching the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. But those feelings didn't last long.
"We've adjusted pretty well," said Ashlan, who is a year younger than Taylor.
A facility such as Leadbetter's can have an eye-opening effect.
In addition to its more than 7,000-yard, championship-level golf course, the academy features an expansive practice facility complete with a double-sided driving range, chipping and pitching stations, multiple target greens and a putting green.
The neighboring IMG Performance Institute has a 10,000-square-foot weight room, a new track and turf field for exercise, and conditioning specialists.
For Taylor, the overwhelming aspect was having her time broken down into neat increments.
"It was very scheduled and everything was planned out for you. I wasn't used to that," she said. "It's very good teaching down there."
Ashlan and Taylor are coached full-time by senior instructor Scott Bettger.
The sisters can -- and often do -- use the practice facilities any time of the day.
"I feel like my short game has gotten a lot better," Ashlan said. "They have a really big short-game facility. I think that's been the key to my improvement."
Taylor said she has seen the same effect.
"Probably my short game," she said when asked which part of her game has improved the most. "It's gotten a lot more consistent. I've been working on it a lot by myself and with my coach."
The improvement was on display recently when the sisters returned to Columbia County for the Charles Howell III Junior Championship at West Lake Country Club, an American Junior Golf Association event. They played together in the last group for Friday's final round.
Taylor earned her first AJGA victory, shooting 1-over-par 73 to finish at 3-under. She beat her sister by one stroke, and Ashlan finished runner-up.
Ashlan had won the week before at the Burgett H. Mooney Jr. Rome Classic in Rome, Ga. That was her second AJGA title.
In the AJGA's Polo Golf Rankings, Taylor's ranking of 146th is sure to shoot way up after her victory. Also improved as a result of the win was her stroke average, which was 79.2 coming into the event.
Ashlan was 32nd in the rankings and ninth among those in the Class of 2013 and younger before the local tournament. That standing is likely to improve because of her runner-up finish.
Ashlan has been one of the junior tour's more consistent performers. In six events this year, she has finished tied for sixth or better five times. Her stroke average was 74.05 before last week's event.
Before Sunday's round, Taylor described the difference between the sisters' on-course demeanor.
"She's very quiet on the course. She's more likely to kill you with silence," Taylor said. "I'm more like doing fist pumps and get myself riled up. But it's the same (for both of us). We're both competitive and out there to win."
It's that competitive spirit, they both said, that has helped them get the most out of their experience in Florida.
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