Freshman Iris Shin hits the ball at the Benbow Invitational on March 9, 2020, in Jacksonville, Florida. The remaining spring season was canceled before the team could compete in the Patriot League Tournament. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Women’s golf acclimates to coronavirus-shortened season


The women’s golf team ended its season on a high note coming out of spring break, only to receive the announcement that the NCAA had canceled all college sports through the end of the school year.

The team saw mixed results during the fall season, placing anywhere from second to ninth in its tournaments, but the players started to see improvements the more matches they played. The Mountain Hawks ended their fall season with the Lehigh Invitational, placing No. 4 out of 10 teams.

While they had their struggles in the first two spring tournaments, placing fourth out of four teams in the battle at Boulder Creek and 11th out of 14 teams in the Benbow Invitational, the players were especially hopeful after spring break, where they had the opportunity to meet professional golfers at the Players Championship in Florida. 

At the time, the team was unaware spring break would mark the end of its season, in which it was ranked fourth in the Patriot League standings. 

Senior Minuette Laessig said it was devastating to hear the season and her college golf career would be ending so abruptly.

“It was pretty surreal because you kind of have an idea and expectations for how your senior year is going to go, and what you’re going to do when you have to perform,” Laessig said. “Not going to Patriots was a shot to the gut.”

Although bummed, the team recognizes the seriousness of the coronavirus and believes canceling the season was the right call, head coach Mary Kate Lynch said.

Junior Angela Ding said the cancellation has even made her more appreciative of the memories she has made with her team.

“Overall, I’m pretty proud of my teammates, and I’m really happy with the time we had and with everything that happened this year,” Ding said. “It shows that you never know what can happen in life, and to always make the most out of every situation and every tournament.”

The players are trying to do just that, staying connected by holding weekly Zoom meetings to check in with one another and vent about their weeks. They have even extended this support system to some of last year’s players who join in on some of their meetings, Laessig said.

The team is limited in creating workarounds for other aspects of the game, like practices, which have become difficult with many players residing in different states and countries. 

Some players are able to golf, while others, like freshman Marina Mendez — who is under mandatory quarantine in Spain — is practicing her swings in the mirror and doing trick shots, which has been fun to see for the rest of the team, Ding said.

All of the players, however, have been kept busy with conditioning, following at-home workout videos and packets crafted by the trainers at Varsity House, Ding said.

With many questions regarding athletics still up in the air, like whether or not the team will be able to practice and compete this summer, the players haven’t discussed working on specifics of their game. Instead, they have put an emphasis on team building.

Next year’s team will consist of three new freshmen, three returning sophomores and one senior.

Such a young team may expect to face a steep learning curve in the fall, but Lynch said she has seen a lot of maturity in the class of 2023 so far. The new players will still be great leaders despite still being in their first season, she said.

Ding said this season has only resembled a prerequisite for the current freshmen, seeing as they have not experienced a full spring season or the competition of the Patriot League Tournament. While the freshmen have a lot of work to do in the fall, Ding said being new will help them be more fearless when competing.

Most of the team is looking toward next season, but the players are also reflecting on the memories they’ve shared with seniors Laessig and Rebecca Markunas.

“(Laessig and Markunas) have been tremendous role models (and) mentors to everyone on this team,” Lynch said. “They truly have given their entire heart and soul to this team. They have always led with their hearts and have cared so much, (and) they have given up so much over their four years to put this team first. I am just so appreciative to both of them, and I am going to miss them tremendously.”

Once things return normal, Lynch said the team is going to hit the ground running, hoping to improve on this interrupted season.

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