The women’s golf team wrapped up their inaugural fall competitive season as a varsity sport this past weekend. The Cardinals sent three players to compete in the NESCAC Women’s Championship qualifier at Williams’ Taconic Golf Club in Massachusetts.
While the team did not qualify for the championship tournament, they showed great individual and collective growth over the course of the fall schedule, finishing their busy run of three tournaments in three weeks.
Williams won the tournament at their home course, followed by Amherst in second and Middlebury in third. Hamilton took fourth place and the last qualifying spot for the Championship.
Captain Saadia Naeem ’20 led the way for the way for the Cardinals, shooting a two-day score of 183 (92–91). Alexis Banquer ’20 capped off a strong first season of competition with a 218 (104–114). Meg Wiley ’22, shot a 248 (134–114) for the team.
Naeem was happy with her performance.
“I was really proud of how I played,” she said. “I really love this course and feel like I know how to manage the greens really well…which is really key to playing the course. If you are able to get on the green in two and manage your strategically play your shots, you can do really well at this course.”
Despite her overall satisfaction, Naeem noted where she struggled in the competition and how she worked to get back on track.
“I did have quite a few unforced errors,” Naeem added. “The first day, I felt like I had a handle on the greens but also found myself struggling quite a bit more. I had too many holes where I doubled [bogeyed]. There were just extra shots I didn’t need on every hole. The second day I felt like I was able to get that in check. I remember feeling way more confident. I parred a lot more and even had a birdie on the second day which felt really nice. There were a lot of things that went really well the second day.”
As a dedicated captain, Naeem knows that there is room for improvement on both the physical and mental side of the game. As the team plays more and more, the work becomes less about hitting the ball well, and more on managing the greens and playing strategically with a focused mindset.
Because golf competition requires an intense personal nature, the team has been putting in a lot of emphasis on the mental side of golf this season, with help from head coach Jon Wilson.
“I think one thing we learned this season was how to, when you’re playing, not let other people’s attitudes affect your own attitude,” Naeem said. “One thing I thought we did really well this semester was focusing on mental game…. I thought this weekend the work we put in really came through.”
While the team is happy with the progress of this first fall season, the Cardinals are not resting on their laurels—rather, the Red and Black are ready to put in the work over the next months to gear up again for the spring season.
Naeem detailed some of what the team hopes to work on for the spring season.
“I’m really, really glad that we have another whole season coming up ahead of us in the spring,” she said. “I think we are going to come out really strong in the spring after working a lot in the winter. I’m proud of how hard everyone worked this fall to get to every tournament and to play a lot. One thing we have to work on is our short game. Alexis hits the ball a mile, Meg hits the ball a mile. We all have the skills to hit the ball. It’s all about how you manage the greens and your short game now. We need to start avoiding those unforced errors.”
More women’s golf competition in the spring should show if, and how, these ongoing efforts will pay off.
Emilio Weber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.