The USF women’s golf team is looking to make history this season by becoming the first Bulls team to make three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
The Bulls finished 24th in 2002 and 23rd in 2001.
Last season, coach Susan Holt and her team took third at the Conference USA championships and secured fifth place at regionals. The team’s goal this season is to continue its success and get back to the national championships.
In order to achieve its goal, USF has been focusing very hard on the short game by improving its wedges and putts.
“As a team we have a lot of good players that are fundamentally sound, but that only gets you so far,” Holt said. “You have to get the ball in the hole.”
Holt has placed such an emphasis on the short game because it makes up 63 percent of the total shots for a round of golf. The fact that the short game constitutes the majority of shots taken on the course means it has the ability to drastically bring scores down.
“It (short game) is a real place where you can save shots,” said senior Kelly Martin, who was the Bulls’ lowest scorer in the 2002 NCAA tournament, finishing in a tie for 75th place.
Martin, who averaged 77.6 strokes per round last season, and the rest of the team have realized the importance of the short game and have been working very hard in practice using specific drills and routines to help them shave strokes from their scores.
“We practice 30 minutes to an hour of short game before doing anything else,” Martin said.
The team, which consists of 12 players, including three newcomers, kicks off its season Friday in Lexington, Ky., at the Lady Kat Invitational. During the season, the Bulls play an average of two 54-hole tournaments a month. This weekend along with the seniors, a true freshman, Fernanda Rivera, is traveling and competing in the tournament. Before every match, the Bulls play three rounds of golf, and based on those performances, five players are picked to participate in the tournament.
Most of their tournaments force them to travel, but the Bulls are hosting three competitions this year, though none of them are being played at The Claw, the USF golf course. This is because the difficulty of the course gives the USF team too much of an advantage. Even though these matches are not hosted at The Claw, the team still believes it owns an edge.
“We don’t have to travel; we are familiar with the environment, and people cheer for us,” said senior Fany Schaeffer, who averaged 77.7 strokes per round a year ago.
Schaeffer injured her wrist last season during the conference tournament and missed the NCAA tournament.
The first home tournament begins Oct. 11 at the Beacon Woods golf course in Bayonet Point.