The Augustana women’s golf team secured a sixth-place finish after spending spring break playing in the Augustana University Spring Fling in Palm Desert, C.A.
Head coach Peggy Kirby said that she is looking forward to drier and warmer weather that will allow the team to get outside and practice.
“It’s been a long winter indoors to practice, and we were in California last week, so it was great to be on green grass and 80-degree weather,” Kirby said. “Now we kick the rest off a bit, and we’ve got some work to do.”
Kirby said the team always tries to have the five strongest players in the conference, but in order to do that, she needs to watch how the team plays in upcoming tournaments.
One player Kirby said to watch for is junior Hannah Hankinson, who was named NSIC Player of the Week. Hankinson placed No. 3 at the California tournament.
“We’ve got a younger, newer team so everybody’s trying to contribute and everybody’s getting a chance to contribute,” Kirby said. “I’m just hopeful to see who’s really ready to compete and start playing a little bit better so that our scoring averages will get down there a little bit.”
Junior Annemarie Fisher said she’s been enjoying growing into a leadership role this year as one of four team captains.
“I noticed a lot of change in myself—just holding myself more accountable because I have to hold other people accountable, so it’s like a chain reaction,” she said.
Kirby said that her golfers’ work ethic and determination in the classroom, in practice, and on the course benefit from each other. “They work really hard to improve,” she said.
Fischer said that while in California, the Vikings focused on playing confidently.
“I think this last week we focused a lot on confidence,” Fisher said. “We just needed to have that confidence that we still remembered how to golf.” “We still have the skills; we just haven’t practiced in a while. That was a big thing for us.”
Kirby agrees that the team could use a confidence boost, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a weakness, “it’s just an area that really needs attention.”
Kirby said it’s difficult to prepare for a situation “where the ups and downs count, where the hitting your target counts” if the team can’t get outside.
“We just need to get outdoors,” she said.
Kirby said that her four team captains, Hankinson, Fisher, McKayla Poppens and Sydney Weber have all helped encourage the rest of the team.
“They are very positive, they’re inclusive, they’re organized and they really help get everybody prepared to get on the road,” Kirby said. “We just had a week away, and every one of them said it was a great week of team bonding, getting stronger as a team.”
Fisher said she believes that the strong team chemistry could help calm early season nerves.
“I think we’re all excited, but we’re a little nervous because our top three graduated last year so it’s like starting over almost,” Fisher said. “We’re still confident that we can place well in conference, but all of the other conference teams are getting better also.”
Kirby said that the team needs to keep a sharp eye on its competition.
“We’re coming off a good fall but our region and our conference has gotten so much better,” Kirby said. “It’s getting much harder, much more competitive. So that just means we have to work harder to get to that next level.”
Fisher said she is looking forward to the season despite its challenges.
“It is probably a little more competitive this year but in a good way,” Fisher said. “It pushes us to get better too if everyone else is getting better.”