Women's Golf

Newcomers Spur Hot Start to Season for Women’s Golf

Courtesy of Ball State AthleticsThe Loyola women's golf team placed first in the Cardinal Classic, a tournament hosted by Ball State University.

The Loyola women’s golf team entered its fall season on a tear, winning the Cardinal Classic and placing third as a team in the Redbird Invitational, where they broke multiple program records.

The team’s early success has been fueled in part by two newcomers, first-year Head Coach Brandy Johnston and graduate student Serena Shah, who is playing her first year at Loyola after transferring from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. 

Johnston comes to Loyola from Carthage College, a division three school where she served as head coach of the women’s golf team. She was promoted to director of golf, overseeing both the men’s and women’s teams. 

The team fell just shy of a win at its first tournament of the year — the Redbird Invitational — finishing five strokes behind Butler University. A week later at the Cardinal Classic, Loyola broke its 54-hole program record with a score of 879 (299-287-293) to win the tournament outright.

Shah tied for second individually at the Redbird Invitational in her debut as a Rambler, earning a score of 218 (70-74-74). Shah followed up that success at the Cardinal Classic where she placed second again, shooting a 211 (73-67-71), her career best score and the lowest score in the program’s history. 

Shah hit a hole in one on the seventh hole of her final round of the Cardinal Classic cementing her success. Despite her strong performances Shah said there are still ways she can improve.

“I think coming off of my best college finish, it obviously feels really good,” Shah said. “That’s what I’m working on going into this week, it’s a good starting point but I definitely could play better.”

Loyola’s success early in the season has already surpassed that of last year’s campaign. Following the Redbird Invitational, Johnston said the team had a lot to be proud of after finishing ten spots higher than they had a year prior.

“I felt that going in I had pretty high expectations,” Johnston said. “I think our big takeaway from the event is that we can actually win. We were just five strokes short of that and it was really just a matter of a couple of holes that we needed to play a little bit better.”

Johnston said the early success has really motivated the team, hoping their strong play continues throughout the season. She added that last year’s team was growing frustrated with a lack of results.

“It was really exciting for the players,” Johnston said. “They looked at the scoreboard after and realized we were actually in it and competitive, versus just competitive against our past.” 

Shah said the welcoming environment created by her teammates and Johnston has made her transition from SMU very smooth, adding the team has contributed to her success on the course.

“I think team camaraderie is great here,” Shah said. “There’s a lot that this team can do and a lot of it is just how close everyone is.”

Johnston said the main area the team needs to work on going forward is minimizing small mistakes and not letting holes get out of control.

Shah said her goals going forward include delivering more wins for the program and continuing to break personal and program records.

“I think this is just the beginning for the women’s golf team to really make a strong showing this season,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we win a few tournaments. I think it was just scratching the surface of what the team can do.”

The Loyola women’s golf team is set to play in the Shirley Spork Invitational in Ypsilanti, Michigan Oct. 3-4. 

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