After a solid start to the season at the NCAA Fall Preview in Tulsa, Okla., the Stanford women’s golf team heads to Northmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill., for the Windy City Collegiate Classic. Led by sophomores Mariah Stackhouse and Lauren Kim, the squad will face familiar Pac-12 opponents—Including defending National Champions USC and Arizona, as well as tournament host Northwestern. This is the first time the Cardinal has attended the tournament.
“This is a great event with a terrific amount of support from the Chicago community,” commented Head Coach Anne Walker. “The golf course is always in great condition and the tournament field [is] tough. I thought it would be good for our team to play in the Midwest against teams we rarely see until postseason.”
In addition to familiarizing themselves with possible NCAA regional and championship opponents, Stanford is looking at this tournament as an opportunity for improving its short game—a facet Walker identified as a problem area after the Fall Preview.
“We are constantly working on our short games, as they are the most important part of golf,” said Kim. “We had a short game qualifier [Monday] in which we played 14 par-2 holes and four par-3 holes, comprised of a variety of different shots. It is a true test of how good our short games are and will hopefully show us what we need to work on for Northmoor.”
Walker added that the team’s Wednesday practice was dedicated solely to chipping. The team’s attention to their shots from 100 yards and in should serve them well at Northmoor, a course designed by Donald Ross. A golf icon, Ross was famous for his “turtleback” greens, which slope considerably at the front and back and thus put a premium on iron, wedge and putter accuracy. Other Ross designed courses include Oakland Hills in Michigan, Inverness Club in Ohio, and Oak Hill in New York—those three have combined to host 13 U.S. Opens and eight PGA Championships.
“I expect well-designed holes with generous fairways and large, undulating greens,” said Walker.
While the short team goal for this Cardinal team will be its chipping and putting, its season-long goal should be improving its overall team depth: Stanford’s 25-shot spread (highest cumulative score minus lowest cumulative score) was second highest at NCAA Fall Preview and was also an issue (23 shots) at the 2013 NCAA tournament.
“I think as the years pass our depth will only increase,” Kim said. “We are headed in the right direction and have created a friendly but competitive environment on our team. I think the most important thing for everyone to do is simply to shoot lower scores and motivate the team to score better in order to make the lineup…We make each other better by shooting better scores.”
Low rounds may be hard to come by in this tournament, however. Given the design of the greens, the possibility of windy weather not conducive to lower scores and the fact that these players are in a period of readjusting to the life of a student-athlete, some rough rounds may be in the cards. But regardless of the situation, this team seems to know what they’re up against and exactly how to prepare for it.
“I have heard [that] Northmoor is a challenging course—one that will test our patience and skill,” Kim said. “This week we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play some difficult local courses in similar conditions—wind, severely undulating greens—so I think we will know what to expect.”
The Cardinal will tee off on Monday morning and play 36 holes on the day, following up with the final 18 on Tuesday. Live stats are available at golftstatresults.com.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.