The PLNU women’s golf team is averaging a score of 318 strokes per match and finishing with an average of third place in their tournaments this season.
The golf program at PLNU was started in 2011 and has only improved since that time. Head Coach Jacqui McSorley built the program from scratch.
McSorley played collegiate golf at the University of Southern California and earned an all-conference status her senior year. Due to her experience on the golf course, the players said they couldn’t be where they are today without her.
“She’s hard; she’s competitive. She came from USC so she knows what good competition is and what we should be shooting to win,” said junior Samantha Stockton.
Last season, the golf team had 11 players, making it the biggest team in PLNU golf history. The team averaged a score of 326 strokes per match. Although the team had more players last year, the eight golfers this season have stepped up their game.
McSorley said the freshman have brought in a new level of competition which has motivated the other players to perform better than in the past.
“Our scoring average has dropped and I think the competitiveness week in and week out for that starting position has really helped. Scripture says ‘Iron sharpens iron’ and we see that here because they are making each other better.”
Stockton, a returning player, said she has seen improvements from last year.
“We have all grown and honed our skills and practiced smarter this year,” Stockton said. “Our putting has got better. Stats have shown that we have eliminated a lot of silly mistakes.”
Because the team has been playing better this season, they have encountered more intense plays on the course.
“We have always been in the middle pack to the back of the leader board, but now we are in contention each tournament so we are learning how to deal with pressure situations,” Stockton said.
Senior Kathleen Crossley is the top player on the golf team. Last season, Crossley was second team all-PacWest performer and the team MVP.
“If I could recruit everyone like a Kathleen Crossley, I would be a very happy coach,” McSorley said.
Haley Fuller is a freshman at PLNU and one of the front-runners this season.
“She’s brought humility and a very mature mentality,” McSorley said. “I look forward to coaching her for the next four years.”
Professional golfer Bob Townsend has also been working with the players. Townsend is certified to coach aiming through a green reading system. Fuller said he has made an impact on the team’s success.
“[He] has taught us a lot of new things that are very different to what we grew up knowing about putting, but most of us embraced it really well and have grown because of it,” Fuller said.
McSorley thinks the mental challenges on the course are the team’s biggest weakness.
“Mentally, they struggle with taking their practice to matches,” McSorley said. “They haven’t been transferring it as well as they should be at their level. They need to just let go and let God, but they’re trying to force it.”
The team’s sports psychologist, Sarah Castillo, has helped the players with the tough mental blocks in golf. Castillo assists the team by giving them a different perspective on performance.
“She gives them different things to think about as far as becoming aware and accepting the situations that are out of their control,” McSorley said.
PLNU’s home course is the Riverwalk Golf Course. Statistics show that the team has played better at Riverwalk than other courses. During the month of February, the Sea Lions hosted the PLNU Super San Diego Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship and tied for sixth place out of 16 teams with 639 strokes the entire tournament.
“I like Riverwalk. It’s a really great home-course advantage, because if you don’t know the course, it can kill you,” Fuller said. “Some people do better on certain courses. It all depends on where you come from and what kind of course layout you like.”
Stockton said the golf team shares a different dynamic than other sports teams at PLNU because they still compete against each other.
“It’s weird because we’re on the same team, but we want to do better than each other,” Stockton said. “It’s good because it keeps a competitive edge. We want each other to do well, but of course, we want to do well ourselves.”
Fuller said the competition among the players is strictly on the course.
“That’s just how golfers are,” Fuller said. “Our whole lives, we are competing against our friends and you want them to do really well, but of course you want to do one stroke better. It doesn’t affect our relationships at all because five minutes later we’re going to breakfast together or Chapel together.”
Although four seniors will be graduating, McSorley said the freshmen players have brought the team to where they are today.
“The energy and enthusiasm of the freshmen propels us to get lower scores and be successful,” McSorley said. “I am really looking forward to the PacWest championships and I want the players to finish strong this season and then catch the momentum going into next season.”
The PLNU women’s golf team will head to Sonoma State University for their next tournament April 6-7.