GVSU women's golf team begins season with solid performance in Indy
Grand Valley State women’s golf team headed to Indianapolis University last week to begin their tournament season. A rain filled Sunday resulted in difficult playing conditions on Monday, Sept. 10 and Tuesday, Sept. 11. Despite the poor state of the greens, head coach Rebecca Mailloux was pleased with the team’s performance, as they placed fifth overall in the tournament.
“I was happy with the scores,” said Mailloux. “We were only two shots out of third place, and given the quality of the field, if we would’ve finished third I would’ve been very pleased.”
The team has been working together for the past year and half in learning good course management which Mailloux said was one of their strengths this past tournament. Without a full practice round, she felt they managed their way around the course well.
“They superseded my expectations,” Mailloux said. “I try not to have too many expectations, but I was very pleased with the numbers we put up, especially from a few players that we have further down the lineup.”
One of those players is sophomore Abbey Pierce, who had only been in the top five lineup once before. Pierce shot 10 over the first round, 5 over on the second and ended shooting even in the third round.
“I improved a lot from the first to second, and then second to third rounds, so I thought that was good to see,” Pierce said. “And on the third day I was the low round for the team, which was the first time for me.”
Pierce attributes her success over the two-day tournament to her newfound confidence. After working with Mailloux on producing more positive self-talk during game play, she has found that she feels more comfortable with her swing. She also found an element of motivation in competing against fellow teammates.
“There’s a lot of team competition, so we help motivate each other to play our best,” Pierce said. “It also helps knowing that we’re going up against last year’s national champions, so it makes you want to fight a lot harder for it.”
Mailloux and the coaching staff have been focusing on implementing a philosophy among the team this year: playing more league tournaments. In doing so, the team is exposed to tougher competition. Mailloux said that a lot of the girls are used to seeing tournament losses as disappointments rather than learning experiences.
“We are going to be playing tougher tournaments, and they’ve just got to try their best every time,” Mailloux said. “It may not be a victory each time, but sometimes a victory might be finishing second or third, or even fourth or fifth.”
Another breakout player was junior Morgan Janke-Wolff who played as an individual throughout the tournament. She earned her personal record in the second round, shooting a 71, the lowest of her collegiate career. Janke-Wolff said that she doesn’t start out with high expectations, especially at the beginning of the season.
“The first tournament is not to have those really high expectations, but just to go out there and play golf,” Janke-Wolff said. “That’s how we build our foundation for the rest of the season. Learning what we can work on, or what we can feed off of.”
With 36 holes the first day - an unusual amount for tournament play - the girls had to keep their focus for roughly 10 hours on Monday. Janke-Wolff said that in order to combat the long day, she kept calm and went with the flow of play.
“I was pretty confident and positive knowing that I had two rounds to play,” Janke-Wolff said. “I was playing well the first round but my driver wasn’t really clicking with me, and it got me in trouble a few times. But knowing I had another 18 holes to play gave me a second chance to correct what was going on in the first round.”
Pierce said that the team had conditioned the previous week in order to prepare for the 36 holes. She also said getting in the right mindset a few days before play is crucial to performing well.
“Preparing mentally and having patience is really important,” Pierce said. “The better you’re playing the quicker the day goes by, and your adrenaline is pumping. But your feet are definitely sore.”
Overall, an area of improvement Mailloux looks to work on is wedge play and continuing the positive energy. Mailloux uses a mental training company called Vision 54 that focuses on staying neutral or positive after every shot.
“It doesn’t mean that you have to be happy about a really bad golf shot, you just can’t react negatively,” Mailloux said. “And I always try and give them some sort of mental cue for the day, called playing focuses. What’s going to keep you on point and keep you in touch with your emotions.”
GVSU will see UIndy again in their home opener in a few weeks. Pierce is looking forward to the match-up.
“I’m excited to play UIndy again,” Pierce said. “I think we have a fair chance at beating them. Plus, we’ll have a little bit of an advantage playing on our home course.”
The Lakers will play in their second tournament of the season at Meadows beginning Friday, Sept. 28.