Katie Bakken has been one of Minnesota’s top women golfers this spring. On Wednesday, the junior was recognized by the Big Ten for her efforts.
Bakken earned her first conference player of the week honor on Wednesday. The junior was selected after winning her first collegiate title last week at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational in Florida.
“I didn’t really know what it was,” Bakken said. “It’s definitely nice.”
Described as “one of the longest ball strikers I’ve seen in my career” by Gophers coach Melissa Arthur, Bakken was able to hold on to a first-round lead to win the individual medal. Bakken carded a two-round total of 147, 5-over par, to defeat Arkansas State’s Amanda Beeler by one stroke.
“Katie has been very steady lately. She probably didn’t play up to her potential in the fall,” Arthur said. “She’s been battling with her confidence. Overcoming tentativeness was a bit of a problem. She’s just building herself up.”
Bakken heads to the University of Hawaii tournament on March 28-30 looking for her second title. Six other Gophers will make the trip with her.
“It’s actually been pretty competitive,” Bakken said. “There are a lot of good golfers on our team who don’t travel.”
Sophomore Cindy Cannon and freshman Karyn Stordahl are also a lock to make the trip. Bakken, Cannon and Stordahl round out the mix of what Arthur calls, “the solid three.”
“Cindy’s been the most consistent player on the team. She gets really frustrated because she hasn’t really broken the barrier, yet,” Arthur said. “And Karyn played great this fall. She was our top golfer.”
The Gophers will need the heat of Bakken, Cannon and Stordahl in Hawaii. The nation’s best team, Arizona, will be amongst the competitors.
“It will be good competition,” Bakken said. “I think we have the talent, it’s just taking time.”
As Minnesota progresses further into its season, Arthur becomes more of a program veteran. The coach was hired last August to replace Kathy Williams.
With nearly one season down, Arthur is receiving a thumbs up from the players.
“I think she’s a great coach,” Bakken said. “She’s fun and excited about coaching and excited about the team doing well.”
Prior to the move, Arthur — one of the most decorated golfers in the history of Iowa State’s program — served as an assistant men’s and women’s coach at Washington State since 1997.
Originally from the Midwest, Arthur traded that in for the head position.
“It’s been great. It’s been very promising,” Arthur said. “We have a young team because we lost a lot from last year. We have to mold that talent.”
Sarah Mitchell covers golf and welcomes comments at [email protected]