Title IX: Golf and eight women with a dream


Collin Maguire/[email protected]

Iowa State women’s golf head coach Christie Martens (left) discusses a chipping drill with then-junior Taglao Jeeravivitaporn (right). Martens has led 21 different Cyclones to 46 All-Big 12 honors throughout her coaching career at Iowa State.

Payne Blazevich

Throughout its history, the Iowa State women’s golf team has transformed into a national contender. It has been an avenue for women across the world to receive an education and compete against the best players in the world.

Preceding all the success and international recognition was a small group of women dedicated to the dream of competing as intercollegiate athletes.

With the introduction of Title IX in 1972, which provided women equal opportunity in resources and aid, the women’s golf program was able to fully develop. 50 years later, Cyclone women have taken advantage of their opportunities and pursued both competitive and educational success.

Historical background

From its inception, the Iowa State women’s golf team fought for the right to compete and succeed. In its first year, the program was threatened by a financial crisis.

New management of the Iowa State golf course forced the women’s team to pay green fees, which had been previously complimentary. Only eight women were selected to be a part of the first women’s golf team due to a lack of funding. The team was placed on a one-year probation and allotted $60 of aid.

Paying out of their own pockets and funding their own travel expenses, the team had a successful first season, finishing second at the Illinois Invitational and placing first at the Midwest Intercollegiate Tournament.

“It sounds like the Horatio Alger story of women’s athletics, but for an ISU team to represent the university without any financial aid from that institution and to compile an outstanding first year record, is…well…refreshing,” Iowa State’s 1972 Bomb yearbook said.

With the introduction of Title IX, the women’s golf team was provided an opportunity to grow and better support its student-athletes. With improved infrastructure, players like Barb Thomas had a chance to shine.

In her only season with Iowa State, Thomas broke program boundaries when she became the first Cyclone to earn All-American honors in 1980. She would go on to compete on the LPGA tour for 18 years.

Iowa State initially competed in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), appearing in three AIAW Championships. Following their initial success, the Cyclones fell into a slump before head coach Julie Manning rejuvenated the program. Under Manning, the Cyclones reached the NCAA Regionals four straight years and won their first and only Big Eight conference championship in 1993.

Consistent Excellence

Although the Cyclones achieved great peaks, the team also suffered long stretches of mediocrity. One thing the program lacked was year-after-year consistency. After another span of struggles getting national attention, Iowa State hired head coach Christie Martens.

In her 17 seasons at the helm, the Cyclones have qualified for 12 NCAA regionals in a row. Iowa State also advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history in 2014. In a program that has seen ups and downs throughout its existence, Martens made excellence the expectation.

As one of three female head coaches for Iowa State, Martens is in the unique position of leading a program to success and acting as an individual role model for the women on her team. Under the leadership of Martens, several former Cyclones compete as professional golfers around the world, including Chayanit Wangmahaporn, Cajsa Persson and Prima Thammaraks.

In the classroom, countless players have earned Academic All-Conference honors during Martens’ tenure. In 2022, Taglao Jeeravivitaporn, Charley Jacobs and Liyana Durisic were Academic All-Big 12 players.

Looking ahead, Iowa State aims to maintain its excellence while taking steps to become an even more competitive program nationally. With a player like Jeeravivitaporn, the Cyclones are capable of reaching new heights.

She received two All-American honors in 2022, becoming the first Iowa State All-American since Thomas 42 years ago. She also became the second player in program history to earn a top-20 finish and shot a 293 at the NCAA Championship, the second-lowest score in school history.

Along with sophomore Ruby Chou, Jeeravivitaporn qualified as an individual for the NCAA National Championship. Before the pair, no Iowa State women’s golf individual had ever qualified.

Impact of Title IX

The available resources and support of the Iowa State women’s golf team are a far cry from the $60 provided 51 years ago. Since 2013, the men’s and women’s teams have shared the Cyclone Golf Performance Center, a world-class practice facility that includes advanced training technology designed to improve performance, as well as offering a space to relax and unwind.

With access to courses such as The Harvester and Coldwater Golf Links, Iowa State’s investment in golf has been part of the reason why the Cyclones have been so successful. The women’s golf team also has access to the strength and conditioning facilities in the Olsen Building and educational resources provided to student-athletes at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center.

As the program developed, Iowa State has equally invested in both the men’s and women’s golf teams. In fact, the women’s golf team spent $1,108,169, whereas the men’s team spent $1,035,993, meaning the women’s team spent $72,176 more than the men’s team last year, according to data from College Factual.

What started as a dream by eight women who desired to represent Iowa State as student-athletes grew into a program internationally recognized for its ability to produce successful women on the golf course and in the classroom. A determination to compete despite poor circumstances opened the door for women across the world to come to Iowa State in the pursuit of excellence.