The Loyola women’s golf team teed the ball up for the first time this season on Sept. 4. In the 36-hole Redbird Invitational at Illinois State University, the women finished No. 13 out of 14 teams with a three-round score of +81 (945).
Loyola returns seven of its nine players from last season, including three of its top four players. The team also boasts the additions of first-year players Morgan Brown and Sara Padilla, who replaced graduated seniors Olivia Lindsley and Bernice Sitompul.
The biggest change for the Ramblers came with the hiring of their first head coach in nearly four years. Before there was one director of golf, who would oversee both the men’s and women’s teams. Loyola hired Carly Schneider on Aug. 10, who is a PGA-certified coach and a 2014 Loyola graduate, to lead women’s golf.
Schneider said the first tournament of the year helped the women get back into the rhythm of the season and lay the foundation for the rest of the year.
“Everything … [the girls] have worked on over the summer shows in that first tournament,” said Schneider. “All the girls that I took really shined, and I was really happy seeing those [scores].”
Junior Jessie Staed and sophomore Elayna Bowser led the way for the Ramblers, each shooting a +17 (233) on the weekend. As two of the top scorers returning to the course, they picked up right where they left off last season, with Staed carding a 75-79-79 and Bowser entering the clubhouse with an 80-77-76, including an eagle in the third round.
Both golfers said they still have a lot of work to do in their individual games. Staed said she wants to focus on her driving ability.
“I’d like to hit it straighter and a little bit farther, and that comes with working out more and getting stronger,” said Staed, a Green Bay, Wisconsin, native.
Bowser, on the other hand, said she feels her weaknesses are in chipping and putting.
“A short game can either make or break your round,” said Bowser, who is from Dearborn, Michigan. “That’s something that if it’s on point, you’re most likely going to have a good round.”
Both Staed and Bowser said they see a lot of potential for success this year and the team is excited for the season. Although the Ramblers ended last season on a good note — placing No. 6 out of 10 teams at the Missouri Valley Conference championships — Bowser said this squad has the potential to be even more successful.
While teams typically nominate leadership, Schneider said she is not naming any captains this year.
“Because I’m a first-year coach and I’m getting to know the girls so well, I think that, because we’re a team … everyone should have a say in everything that goes on,” Schneider said. “There will be girls that step up in a leadership position. I know the seniors are probably going to step up and take the freshmen under their wing … and I don’t want to limit that to one or two people.”
Staed and Bowser said Schneider has a positive mentality and will help improve even the small details of a swing.
The Ramblers will be back in action again as a tournament host at the Loyola Invitational on Sept. 19-20 at Flossmoor Country Club, in a suburb south of Chicago.