For Loyola junior Elayna Bowser, golfing is a family affair. Her brother, Evan, golfed at Oakland University — whose home course was located roughly 30 minutes from Bowser’s hometown of Dearborn, Michigan —from 2012-16 and currently plays on the PGA Tour Canada. Bowser would sometimes walk along with him while he played, which allowed her to get familiar with the course.
On Sept. 25-26, it was her turn to play the course.
After the 2016-17 season, it was time for Loyola women’s golf coach Carly Schneider to add tournaments to the upcoming schedule. When a chance to play in the Golden Grizzlies Invitational tournament, hosted by Oakland, came about, Schneider saw an opportunity to take Bowser close to home.
“When we were looking at changing dates and tournament schedules, we wanted to look at other courses and [Oakland’s] course is awesome,” Schneider said. “Even better is when we can find a tournament close to somebody’s home because there really is nothing like having parents, friends and family around at a golf course … so we try to keep tournaments as close as possible so we can have that following and add to that student-athlete experience.”
The Ramblers came in second out of nine schools with a score of 624 (312-312) and Bowser came in second, individually, out of the 48 golfers in the field with a score of 151 (77-74). While she hadn’t played the course much before, Bowser said she felt her prior knowledge from walking its holes helped her make a plan for how she’d play.
“I had a game plan going in … [I would] pick a spot in the fairway, because … the rough was so thick right off the fairway,” Bowser said.
She also said the team’s expectations of her were high because Oakland is her brother’s alma mater. While he walked along with her for both rounds, he wasn’t allowed to say anything to help her because tournament rules didn’t allow it.
“Everyone was expecting me to do so well because [Evan] went there,” Bowser said. “But I still have to play the course on that day, [so] all of those factors are irrelevant, I feel like, when it came down to it.”
Bowser said her parents and some friends also came to support her, because the course was so close to where she grew up.
Schneider said Bowser’s brother played a role in getting the team ready for the tournament given his in-depth knowledge of the course.
“I do as much as I can, behind the scenes while they’re playing, to really get to know the greens and everything,” Schneider said. “I knew the three or four holes I wanted to be on for [the team, and Evan] helped me with that because he played [the course] all the time … when he played at Oakland.”
Schneider also said she’s noticed Bowser is typically in a better mood when her brother is with her because they’re so close.
Bowser and the Ramblers are scheduled to head to Des Moines, Iowa, for Drake University’s Bulldog Invitational Oct. 9-10.