The bar is set high this season for Union’s veteran women’s golf team, and the developing men’s squad expects to see major improvements from a season ago behind new head coach Clay Mallard.
The women’s team will return four Seniors to the golf course this year, who combined for ten top-ten finishes last season, including five by Rilee Taylor.
“I feel like having four Seniors is good,” Taylor said. “We have already seen and played most of the courses, which helps when you go to play at those tournaments.”
“[Having four Seniors on the team] was a little intimidating at first,” Meghan Poulan, the team’s lone freshman said. “But the seniors have been so welcoming and supportive. I will definitely learn a lot from them this year.”
The other big storyline going into the season is the loss of their best player, Lindsay McRee, who graduated in May with a degree in business administration and is now a graduate assistant on the coaching staff. McRee set many school records in her time at Union and was Union’s first player to play for four seasons.
“I feel like the outlook will be a little different without having Lindsay on the team,” McRee’s former teammate Rilee Taylor said. “But I do feel like our team will do well this year with our new coach Clay Mallard.”
Mallard, the new head coach, golfed for Union from 2007-2010 and was the TranSouth Conference Golfer of the year twice.
The men’s team was much improved last season, after a bit of a down year in 2014. They improved their round average by over seven strokes and now appear to be a squad seriously on the rise.
Perhaps the biggest reason that Union was so much better last season was overwhelming number of freshmen. Over half the team were freshmen a season ago, including its top two players, Braxton Rider and Blake Karnes. The men’s team is set to make even more drastic improvements this season, as again over half of the roster are freshmen.
Both the men’s and women’s teams participate in the Freed-Hardeman Classic on Monday and Tuesday, which will mark their first competitive golf match of the season.
“I expect us as a team to finish first, if not at least close to the top,” Taylor said. “I’m excited to see what this season has in store for us!”