Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – In golf, as in every other athletic endeavor, overnight success stories are few and far between.
Players must put in the time and work steadily toward intermediate goals through a pragmatic approach.
The Central Michigan women’s golf team begins its third year, having taken those steps on an ascendant path that coach Cheryl Stacy hopes pays off in tangible results this fall.
“For the most part I saw the progress throughout the summer,” said Stacy, whose team opens the fall portion of its schedule on Monday at the Ball State Cardinal Classic at The Players Club in Yorktown, Ind. “I would have liked to have seen a little more tournament golf from a couple of the players, but overall I thought they competed in pretty good, quality tournaments.”
Two promising freshmen, Danielle Sawyer and Katie Logan, have been added to a roster that returns all of its top players, including Natalie Johnson, who led the Chippewas with an 81.0 average in the 2015-16 season and Kristen Wolfe, who was second at 81.46. Both Johnson and Wolfe are juniors.
Johnson shot the low score in qualifying heading into the Cardinal Classic and will fill the No. 1 spot, while Wolfe sits in the No. 2 spot.
“Our third, fourth, fifth and sixth (qualifying) scores are very, very close so there’s a lot of competition for those spots,” Stacy said. “They’re going to push each other. Last year we had some injuries so we only had five players and we didn’t have that competition. This year it’ll be a different dynamic.”
The Chippewas also return sophomore Bria Colosky, who averaged 82.88 last year, along with juniors Amanda Walsh and Holly Hines. Walsh returns after sitting out the entire 2015-16 season with an injury.
Another year of experience in tournament golf will only help, Stacy said, and the newcomers, Logan and Sawyer, are both veterans of the junior-golf circuit, a key component to development.
“Just how they’re carrying themselves I can see the maturity,” Stacy said of her returnees. “They look more confident with more experience. I’m encouraged by that.
“I think it’s tough for a freshman coming in. It’s their first couple weeks of school so they’re getting acclimated to everything. I know that’s going to be a little bit of a challenge, but I think they’ll be fine once they get into tournaments because they’ve both played a lot of competitive golf.”
Stacy said she has placed an emphasis on the oh-so-important mental side of the game, specifically stressing positive reinforcement and looking ahead, not back.
“It’s definitely an on-going process,” she said. “The more you talk about and react to bad shots and bad holes, the more likely you’re going to repeat that. You look at a basketball player. How many basketball players are worried about the shots they missed? Are they replaying those in their head? No. They’re thinking about the good shot.
“When you hit a bad shot, you’ve got to just say, ‘What kind of shot did I want to hit? And you kind of replay a good shot in your head and go on. Then you’ve wiped out the miss.”