A difficult start to the beginning of the season left women’s golf hungry for the spring to start. After losing former captain Samantha Stockton last year after she graduated, the team has shown signs of a transition period with light at the end of the tunnel.
The golf season is unique compared to other collegiate sports in that it is broken into two parts: four tournaments in the fall and five in the spring, with only one being played in San Diego. The first half of the season brought challenges to the Sea Lions as experience seemed to play a factor. Senior and current captain Mariah Fuller and her sister, junior Haley Fuller, stood out compared to the rest. But through the first three tournaments, the highest they placed was seventh.
“It was an adjustment time for us,” said Mariah Fuller. “We got a new coach and lost our captain. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and I believe that we are ready for the spring.”
With only six players on the roster, losing someone is tough, but losing former head coach Noel Allen on top of it almost hurts the team more. In a sport that is so mentally driven, a coach can be the source of comfort needed to return to focus. Both of the Fuller sisters admitted tournament play can be daunting, especially to younger players, such as freshman Emily Smith.
“Coach Allen is still able to make practice whenever she can,” said Haley Fuller. “We have a lot of support. It doesn’t really feel like we lost anyone, it feels more like we gained an extra coach.”
Current head coach Lance Hancock is taking over for Coach Allen in her absence. He was given the tough task of losing a senior captain and bringing a freshman up to a collegiate level standard of play. He seems to have done relatively well. After the first three tournaments, the Sea Lions placed fourth in their final event, the best performance of the season and possibly a sign of change from all players. Now that the first half of the season is over, the team has three months to prepare for the second half.
“I know that our team will be able to get into that good rhythm of competing and executing this coming spring season,” said sophomore Michelle Picca. “I believe that it will only get better from here on out. Each girl on our team has the talent and drive to shoot those good rounds. That being said, I’m excited to see what 2017 holds for us.”
The single home tournament, PLNU Reach 2017, for the Sea Lions this year takes place on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7. Each year, a portion of the proceeds are donated to a different charity chosen by the team. This year’s charity has not been decided on, yet. Last year’s portion was donated towards efforts to stop human trafficking.