Lehigh women's golf first-year Olivia Lu takes a swing on the green. The women's golf team will compete in the Patriot League Championships in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on April 19. (Courtesy Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh women’s golf tees up for Patriot League Championship


After a third place finish in the 2023 Patriot League Championship, the Lehigh women’s golf team is hoping to top the podium for the first time since their inaugural season in the conference in 2013. 

The team competed at four invitationals this semester, with its best result coming at the Navy Spring Invitational from April 13-14, where the Mountain Hawks finished seventh out of 11 teams. 

“Our talent level is as high as it has ever been. We are going to go in there with less nervousness this year and because of the tougher competition we have been facing, we are going to shine,” coach Mary Kate Lynch said.

The Patriot League Championship will take place at Bucknell on April 19-21, the same location where sophomore Yuki Zhu shot her lowest round ever, 69, last September.

 “I really don’t want to put too much pressure on myself for Patriot’s,” Zhu said. “I try to treat it just like every other tournament.”

At the championships last year in Richmond, Virginia, the team was only 21 points behind first-place Richmond.

Leading the team through the intense battles off the tee box is senior Venecia Zaia, who transferred to Lehigh after the end of her junior season at the University of North Carolina Asheville. 

As the only senior on the team, both Zaia and Lynch were unsure what the introduction process would look like for her. 

“It was a different kind of dynamic because I was coming in with a lot of experience but I am still new to the school,”  Zaia said. 

Zaia was named a captain alongside junior Madison Pineda. Lynch said the team immediately saw Zaia as a leader and mentioned the support and mentorship that both captains offer the team.

“(Zaia) just handled it so well. She didn’t overstep and really came in vulnerable and I think the team responded so well to that.” Lynch said. 

Besides changes in leadership, the team has also incorporated new techniques to keep their mental health just as stable as their physical health. They work on mental performance training through university services as well as through an independent contractor, Next Play Sports. 

Each week the team members attend individual sessions with a high performance consultant, in addition to meeting together as a team after tournaments to talk about their feelings and what next steps to take. 

“It’s been really helpful throughout the season, especially with the difficult competition and poor conditions,” Lynch said “Making sure that the team could manage their stress on the golf course effectively and reset after difficult rounds has been crucial and the girls have really bought in to that process.” 

Along with the mental performance training, Lynch said she is also a resource for creating a strong and friendly environment. 

“We will have individual meetings where I will ask how I can support you best and it is different with every player. Sometimes they might just need a joke, sometimes they might need a swing coach,” Lynch said. 

Zhu said the mental strain while on the course can be very overwhelming, especially when playing for nearly twelve hours in a day. 

“I just try to focus shot by shot and just focus on the golf, leave everything else out of it, and that’s what we are doing,” Zhu said. “It can be very exhausting, and having those friendly interactions with my teammates and coaches will always cheer me up.”  

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