Approaching the inaugural Pacific West conference championship like the 18th hole, the Dixie State University women’s golf team is trying to utilize everything learned and muster all strength and concentration left.
After the first round, the women’s golf team was in second place, one stroke behind Grand Canyon University and Academy of Art University. Sophomore Haley Dunn also posted the lowest score going into the tournament’s last day.
Putting pressure on Grand Canyon University, ranked No. 4 in Division II women’s golf, took standout performances from Dunn and other team members. Head coach Rachel Harmon said goal-oriented focus was a catalyst to the strong start.
“They just focused on shot by shot—like we’ve been working on that last few weeks,” Harmon said.
So close behind the leaders, winning the PacWest conference championship wouldn’t only be impressive because it’s the team’s first season.
Harmon said participating in the conference’s first championship tournament makes a memorable performance more meaningful.
“It’s the first-ever Pacific West conference championship for the whole entire conference, so it’s the first time for everybody to play this kind of tournament, which is cool,” she said. “The conference finally has enough teams to warrant having [a tournament].”
Championship-caliber preparation included learning from a last-place finish at Brigham Young University’s tournament in March and engaging in practice rounds.
As the lone Division II team in the BYU Entrada Classic’s field, Harmon said educating the players in the differences between DSU and Division I teams created a positive learning experience that allows the team to compete in the PacWest championship. Teams like BYU have players who’ve played for 15 years and are on scholarship, while Division II players need development in certain aspects to reach the next level.
Compounded with positive communication off the course, players used practice rounds to discuss course features that differed from familiar conditions.
“I’ve prepared for the greens in California because they’re much different than here in St. George,” said Hannah Folks, a sophomore communication major from St. George.
Weather and course conditions always change, Harmon said. After practice rounds, the coaching staff encouraged players to share insight on what they saw during the practice and how it may have an impact on performance.
These elements of practice fixed holes in team members’ skills.
Madalynne Fedoruk, a freshman biology major from Riverside, Calif., said meetings create positive attitudes, which foster positive performances. Folks said feedback from teammates and coaches builds on information she’s already gathered.
“Usually we take notes on [team members’] observations, and I’m usually observing as I play,” Folks said.
Nearing the season’s end, tight banter among team members and a competitive spirit will push their skills far during summer. Fedoruk said motivational tools like the birdie book, where players sign their names and a small note after scoring a tournament birdie, create growth that won’t be stunted.
“All in all, the whole year they’ve progressed; they haven’t really backpedaled at all,” Harmon said.