Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The Blues Hit the Green at the Pacific Invitational

Just four hours away from Walla Walla, the small town of Banks, Oregon came alive as fierce golf competitors from each of the nine Northwest Conference schools gathered at the Quail Valley Golf Course for the Pacific Invitational. On both the men’s and women’s side of the tournament, eight teams comprised of five golfers each went head-to-head, surrounded by the scenic rolling hills and greenery that encircled the golf course. For Whitman’s golfers, this tournament was a memorable start to the fall season, with the men’s team placing second overall and the women’s team taking third.

Head Men’s and Women’s Golf Coach, Senior Lecturer of SSRA and Assistant Director of Athletics Skip Molitor explained that this tournament was a critical starting point, with the individual and collective success of the players giving golf fans and players high hopes for the remainder of their two golf seasons that culminate in the NWC Championship held in the spring.

For Molitor, falling into a consistent practice routine that allows golfers to practice at all three different golf courses located in Walla Walla was critical to the teams’ early success.

“Our practices are structured where half the practice is the teams working on something collectively and then they go and work on something individually,” Molitor said.

Junior Alexander Knox agreed, explaining that for the team, balancing golf’s independent nature with a strong and healthy group dynamic comes naturally from bonding and spending time around teammates.

“The time [we spend together] adds up, we definitely let each other hear it when playing against each other in practice rounds but in the end it’s just helping us build up that mental strength for tournaments so we can be better prepare,” Knox said.

For freshman Malaina Sidhu, the connection that athletes have to the campus at large and their teammates is an external motivating factor when competing.

“Although golf is an independent sport, we still play for each other, our coaches, our trainer and our school,” Sidhu said.

Both golfers reflected on the team bonding that occurs outside of the game in spaces like late night team meetings at hotels, team dinners at Taqueria Mi Pueblito and programs like the women’s team’s Big Sister program that sets up new golfers with an upperclassman mentor.

Molitor credits his athletes for their ability to create strong connections in a relatively individualistic sport.

“Both teams do a really good job of promoting what we call a ‘phenomenal team dynamic.’ They do a great job of hanging out with each other on the course [and] off the course, doing some social things with each other,” Molitor said.

In the heat of the sport when players must perform without their teammates physically by their side, they think back to the lessons they’ve learned in practice on and off the court.

“When I am feeling a lot of pressure either on or off the course, I am reminded of what my coach told me, that ‘Pressure is privilege.’ The thought of this makes me grateful to be able to play this sport at a competitive level and makes me want to play the best I can at the tournament and improve after,” Sidhu said.

For Knox, staying focused on the present and replicating the routines developed through practice is the route to a clean victory.

“A round can go straight out the window in one shot which is a tough thing to wrap your head around, especially when your team might be relying on you,” Knox said. “To manage that I think its super important to just have a routine and stick to it before you hit each shot, it keeps your mind from wandering and keeps you confident.”

Molitor explained that the addition of three new freshman to each team has invigorated team spirits, making both the men’s and women’s team excited for the season to come.

Golf at Whitman continues to grow in power, reflecting the strong team-based work ethic of the students and speaking volumes about the success that is likely to come following the Pacific Invitational.

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