Women’s golf looks forward to big season

Grant Engle

As the fall semester is under way, the highly-ranked Kent State women’s golf team are preparing to live up to the high ranking that GolfWeek.com gave the program entering the 2011 season.

Kent State coach Mike Morrow doesn’t think the expectations of being a top program will weigh on the players or coaching staff.

“Our mindset is to improve on that position,” Morrow said.

Kent State added women’s golf as a sport for the 1998-1999 season. Since then, they have won every possible Mid-American Conference Championship.

Former Kent State golfer Maddi Swaney was a key player during three of those championship runs. Swaney’s career scoring average ranks ninth in the team’s short, but illustrious history.

Swaney has been added as an assistant coach this season, and Morrow said there wouldn’t be much of a learning curve for the former standout athlete.

“She knows how the team became good, and she knows what we need to do to keep it there,” Morrow said.

Swaney, a four-year letterwinner with Kent State, served as a tournament coordinator for the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., since the beginning of 2011.

Morrow noted that Swaney is a “great competitor” and that the team will benefit from her attitude.

Three seniors, who have played in every tournament for the last three years, are expected to lead the team to another MAC title.

Mercedes Germino, Mandi Morrow and Shamira Marshall will be assuming leadership roles because of their experience.

Also, the team has added transfer student Jackie Yanch from Indiana University. She has substantial experience and posted a scoring average of 78.4 in nine tournaments last season. Yanch will have two years of eligibility left at Kent State.

Alongside being an experienced team, Kent State has a very diverse roster. The team boasts international talent from Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Morrow said having a diverse team “is an asset,” and that the team builds chemistry while practicing together and playing in tournaments.

“I always think it’s a big positive that we have people from all over the world,” Morrow said. “The players get to meet people through golf that they might not otherwise meet.”

Despite being considered a mid-major university, Kent State will visit tournaments hosted by some of the largest, most highly regarded universities in the nation.

Kent State will play in tournaments hosted by Stanford, The University of Texas, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, The University of Georgia and The University of Florida.

Kent State played in qualifying matches September 5, and will have the 54-hole conclusion of the qualifiers Saturday.

The team is using the intra-squad matches to determine which players will play in the team’s upcoming tournament, the Mary Fossum Invitational, at Forest Akers West Golf Course, in East Lansing, Mich., Sept. 17. The event will be hosted by Michigan State University.

Contact Grant Engle at [email protected].