Women golfers set to tee up wins

Stephanie Strommen

With four out of the top five players entering their senior years, the Gophers women’s golf team will be nothing this year if not experienced.
Minnesota is coming off a season in which they placed 17th at the NCAA regional tournament last spring, their best team record ever.
But while that was a record setting accomplishment, Coach Kathy Williams said she feels the team can reach new goals this year with the number of veteran players.
And if the Gophers can hang onto the success they had last fall, Williams could get her wish. Early last season, the team took first place in both the Huskie Classic Golf Tournament and the Wildcat Invitational. That gave Minnesota its best fall season record since 1982.
But as the months wore on, the Gophers faded. With the return of seniors Michelle Ballou, Donna Boom, Melanie Lepp and Kristy Weichert, the pieces are in place for an improved showing.
“I think we could have a really good team,” Ballou said. “Everyone has worked really hard since last season and we’d like to improve on that.”
No formal practice was scheduled for this summer, but several players have taken part in the Minnesota Women’s Golf Association State Match Play and State Amateur golf tournaments.
Team practice begins less than a week before the Gophers open the season with the Minnesota Invitational on Sept. 12 at Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul. Although Minnesota has yet to hit the course as a team, coach Kathy Williams said she feels optimistic about the season ahead.
“I think this is the year we’re most experienced,” she said. “Anytime you have four seniors in the starting lineup, that’s pretty good.”
The Gophers will see some tough competition in the Big Ten, however. Williams expects perennial conference powers Ohio State and Indiana — both of which finished in the top five at regionals last season — to be tough to beat.
“There are some great teams,” she said. “But if we play up to our potential there’s nothing we can’t do.”