Larger roster, deeper talent pool bring excitement to women's golf

BREVARD, N.C. – With a significantly larger roster and increased talent level, Brevard women’s golf coach Shannon Reid is encouraged by the improvement her team showed over the fall portion of its schedule.

“Both of our returners are a year older and a year more mature,” Reid stated. “We’ve gained so much experience throughout the fall. I’m excited to see what the team can do as we head toward the conference tournament in April.”

Kelsie Rhyne and ZeAijah Mooney were joined by three newcomers last semester. The team swells to six members for the spring season, with former volleyball student-athlete Kindle Kirkham set to join the ranks during her final semester at Brevard.

“Kindle came to me about competing for us,” Reid said. “She played in high school and wanted to be a part of this group of women during our spring competitions. It’s very encouraging to see a student-athlete wanting to help another program. She’s even tutored many of our golfers because they’re in the same major. With such a young team, I’m excited for the senior leadership she’s going to bring to the squad.

“We really have a lot of talent on this roster,” she continued. “Taylor has had some of our better outings and has an amazing drive. Courtney’s all-around game is very solid. Maddie’s short game is really good. And what I like about this group is that they haven’t reached their potential yet. They’re all very capable of continuing to improve.”

Often able to send only three golfers to tournaments a year ago, Reid’s squad suffered from a lack of internal competition. But having six players on the roster competing for four slots per tournament helps the golfers push each other to earn their way into tournaments.

Perhaps no student-athlete has benefitted from the increased pressure more than sophomore Kelsie Rhyne, a 2015 recipient of the Marilynn Smith Scholarship through the LPGA Foundation that is based on academic excellence, leadership skills, and community service. “Kelsie is being constantly pushed to play at a higher level and I think it’s really helping her,” said Reid. “She’s also our most stable and consistent golfer and is able to help the younger players on their tough days.”

The adjustment from high school to collegiate golf can take its toll on some student-athletes. Unlike at the prep level, tournaments do not have a maximum number of strokes per hole, making it easier for one challenging hole to derail an otherwise promising round. Increased pressure to perform, longer yardages, and difficult pin placements better suited for collegiate men also create challenges that set the college game apart. But Reid says that her trio of freshmen adjusted quickly to the new challenges they faced.

“What I saw from our newcomers in the fall,” Reid remarked, “was the ability to adjust to the course. They all found ways to improve on the second day of tournaments, adjust after having a tough hole in the opening round, and work through the tough holes to bounce back. It was very encouraging to witness that maturation process, and I’m confident it will continue throughout the spring.”

In order to find success, Reid says her golfers must continually improve. What does that improvement look like? “I think it could be as simple as an individual starting a round poorly and then bouncing back. It’s showing mental toughness. It’s making incremental improvements, working to get better every day, every tournament.”

Brevard’s first tournament of the spring begins on Monday opens its spring season on Monday at the Converse Spring Invitational in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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