By Kathleen Hartsfield
The Union women’s golf team launched its spring season Feb. 18 at an NCCAA tournament held in Winter Haven, Fla., taking third place in a tie with Eckerd College. Freshman Lindsay McRee tied for 7th overall.
Centre College won the 9th annual Start to Finish Classic, hosted by Webber International.
Katie Smith finished 18th, Kara Glover finished 19th, Ann Elizabeth Lynch tied for 21st place and Rachel Clardy finished 25th.
This semester begins the second half of the team’s inaugural season.
In March, the team will attend the Spring Hill Invitational in Mobile, Ala., and will be accompanied by the men’s golf team.
Because the women’s team has played only four tournaments, players have had little opportunity for success.
The roster includes senior Katie Smith of Evansville, Ind.; junior Rachel Clardy of Maumelle, Ark.; freshman Kara Glover of Brighton; Lindsay McRee of Murfreesboro; and Ann Elizabeth Lynch of Jackson.
Clardy, junior business management major, said players and Coach Andy Rushing are “creating [their] own team.”
Rushing also coaches the men’s team, which has won the conference five times and competed in the national conference for the last three years.
Rushing credits some of the success to alumni who invest in the players.
Because the men’s golf program started in 1999, a number of alumni still keep up with how the team is doing. Rushing hopes a similar community will develop around the women’s program.
“I think it means something when graduates come back and talk to the current players, and suddenly the players realize, ‘Hey, somebody’s paying attention’ because we’re pretty anonymous.”
That kind of mentoring will develop with time, Rushing said.
Rushing coached baseball for 29 years before transitioning into his position as a golf coach.
“The relationship between coaches and players is the same; it doesn’t matter what sport it is,” he added.
Rushing then reflected on the team’s first tournament in which they beat two of the six teams.
“The scores weren’t what we had envisioned,” he said. “As we stood there at the end of the tournament, I said, ‘Y’all look at the scoreboard because someday we’ll stand in front of it and say, ‘Look what we’ve done.'”