Spring golf season looks to build on fall success

Riley Foreman

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If good things come in small packages, then the Whitman women’s golf program is not just good, but it’s great. The team is comprised of one senior, one junior, one sophomore and two first-years, all of whom will resume play this month after placing in the top two in four consecutive fall tournaments.

In the coming weeks, the squad hope to ride the momentum of their fall semester into the spring, despite a prolonged break since finishing second at the Northwest Conference Fall Classic. Senior captain Kelly Sweeney commented on the unique structure of the golf season and how the team stays motivated to improve.

“It’s definitely hard to have that break in between [the two seasons], but since we all go home for such a long period of time, we usually take advantage of it and practice the things that were hard for us in the fall,” said Sweeney.

Sometimes preparation over winter break means braving courses in unfavorable weather conditions. However, all five players grew up in the Pacific Northwest and are thus accustomed to the soggy grounds.

“I love playing in the rain,” said first-year phenom Phoebe Nguyen, who tied for third overall at the NWC Fall Classic. “Sometimes my dad takes me out to play when it’s freezing and pouring, so in tournaments it’s fine.”

The team’s optimism concerning rain probably won’t apply when they travel to California over spring break in order to play in the Cal Lutheran Invitational, a high-caliber tournament that boasts teams that are ranked in the top 20 nationally. Due to the small size of Whitman’s program, all five women will have the opportunity to play, with the four best scores counting towards Whitman’s team total.

“All of us play in every tournament, so we all matter because there is always the potential of your score counting,” said Alyssa Maine, the lone junior on the team.

Despite the individualistic nature of golf, the team has meshed well together, a feat that they credit much to Head Coach and Assistant Athletics Director Skip Molitor. Although Whitman graduated three seniors in May, the  two newcomers have transitioned effectively into large roles on the team.

“We are filling the holes. Everyone steps up, as they always have,” said Maine. “[Coach] Skip is kind of the glue that keeps our close-knit group together.”

With goals of post-season play on their mind, the women hope to secure an at-large or automatic qualifier bid to nationals. In order to do so, they will need to repeat their strong performances at the NWC Spring Classic and at the NWC Championship, both of which will take place in April. They also hope to play well in front of friends and family at their only home tournament of the year, the Whitman Easter Invite. Each athlete is aware that in order to accomplish such a feat with such a small squad, it will truly take a team effort.

The Whitman women’s team will play in their first spring tournament March 7-8 in Bremerton, Wash. as part of the UPS Invitational.

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