Women’s golf team like a family

Dan Martin

The ISU women’s golf team is having an historic season. After starting out unranked in the fall, the Cyclones have beaten many of the nation’s top teams en route to a No. 11 ranking.

The team has many skilled individual golfers, but everyone on the team is quick to credit 100 percent of their success to their teammates and coaches.

“We have that X-factor,” said senior Victoria Stefansen. “We have that extra thing. We’re not just a team, we’re [a] family that works together. We’re not just a bunch of individuals in a team that go out and try to compete well individually and end up doing good.”

The Cyclones are a very diverse team with players from Thailand, Denmark and Belgium.

“We have a lot of fun together, but when we need to be serious, we are serious,” said senior Laurence Herman. “We have to stay focused individually because golf is a very individual sport, but when we get a break, we all get along and encourage each other.”

This season has been a major accomplishment for coach Christie Martens, who recruited and brought all these players together. Martens took the helm of the ISU team in 2005. Coach Pina Gentile joined her two years later, and they have steadily improved the program.

“There’s a lot of depth on our team,” Martens said. “There’s not just one person winning it for us every single week. Every week they are all dependent on their teammates. It’s exciting to see everyone playing so well. It’s fun, it’s always fun when everyone is playing so well. It’s just really exciting to watch and be a part of.”

The Cyclones caught most everybody by surprise this year. Starting off unranked, they fought their way up until people started paying attention. “Golf Week” recently named Iowa State “Team of the Week,” and “Golf World Campus Insider” named Iowa State one of its top-five teams in the country.

The Cyclone women knew they had the potential to do this from the start — it was just about going out and proving it on the course.

“At the beginning of the fall we saw we had some good new freshmen come in,” Herman said. “We had Bo [Punpaka Phuntumabamrung] coming back as a sophomore, and she had improved a lot. So at the beginning of the fall, I knew we had a lot of potential.”

For Herman and Stefansen, the two seniors on the team, there is no better note to go out on.

“I’ve never been so proud to be a Cyclone,” Stefansen said. “I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve always known we were capable of doing this, and for us just to go out there, it’s hard to put words on. I got a little teary-eyed at the last tournament. I’m just really proud to be a Cyclone and proud to be a part of this great team.”

There are four tournaments left for the Cyclones before the Big 12 Championship and then the NCAA Regionals and Championships.

Iowa State is the top-ranked team in the Big 12, but all the players have their eyes set on nationals. The Cyclones beat last year’s champions, Purdue, by double digits in their last tournament.

“There’s a lot of great teams out there,” Herman said. “It’s going to be some great competition, but we’ve shown we can go out and play with anybody. We want to go there and play the best we can, and hopefully we will do well.”