ISU women’s golf to begin season at a site of past success

Mike Randleman

The ISU women’s golf team is banking on a couple days in the Florida sun to be adequate preparation as its spring season looms.

Prior to the team’s spring debut at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 8, No. 32/32 (Golfweek/Golfstat) Iowa State traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla. during the previous weekend to get some coveted outdoor practice.

“It was really great to actually go out on a course and be able to play holes. It was really helpful,” said freshman M.J. Kamin. “I think it’s a whole different feel. You have to get used to playing a real course again and apply what you’ve done here to a real course.”

With a two-year old practice facility, as well as an artificial turf field at the Bergstrom Football Complex to practice wedges, Iowa State has not been at a standstill in terms of practice space. With heated hitting bays, simulators and an indoor putting green all at the players’ finger tips, the Cyclones are working to narrow the gap that often exists between northern and southern programs.

Despite the luxuries provided in Ames, nothing can replicate playing a true round of golf. This reality led Iowa State to travel to Florida for an exhibition match against Northwestern and 18 holes of practice in Florida last weekend.

“It was great,” Coach Christie Martens said of her team’s Florida expedition. “I think it gave everyone a lot of motivation seeing what they need to work on, where they’re making progress and where they still want to be before we start our first tournament this week.”

Fresh off its preseason trip, the team will return to the Sunshine State to a tournament that has been kind to the Cyclones.

In 2014, Iowa State finished in second place out of 19 teams at the UCF Challenge, falling one shot shy of sharing the title.

Only two players from that team, however, will return to Orlando this season: Chonlada Chayanun, who tied for seventh place, and Cajsa Persson, who tied for 22nd place.

Three freshmen, Celia Barquin, Kamin and Nattapan Siritrai, comprise the rest of the ISU outfit, making for Martens’ youngest starting lineup in her 11-year tenure as head coach.

The team’s inexperience has put the onus on Chayanun and Persson to lead the team.

“It gives our upperclassmen a lot of responsibility to kind of pass along our culture,” Martens said. “They’re taking control of that more so than they have in the past. I think it gives them a lot of ownership.”

Despite the inexperience, the young players have not been a problem for the Cyclones, as a freshman led or co-led the team in each of four tournaments in the fall.

Inconsistency from one through five has kept Iowa State from its position in the top 25, a familiar spot for the Cyclones last season.

If consistency can be found, Martens said the difference between Iowa State and the four top-25 teams in this week’s field is slim.

“I don’t think there’s a ton of separation,” Martens said. “For us being ranked low-30’s, wherever we are, I don’t think there’s a huge separation. I think it’s going to be about if we go out and do the things we need to do.”