By Antionette Cudney
After coming close last year, the Grinnell women’s golf team looks forward to competing at this year’s Midwest Conference Championships. The team is made of seven returning players and no first years. Aside from one member who graduated last year, all of the team has returned.
Head Coach David Arseneault Sr., in an email to the S&B, explained, “I only wanted a first year added to the group if she could significantly improve the team’s performance. There didn’t seem to be much sense in bringing in another player with similar skills as what we were already returning.”
Although three freshmen golfers applied, they ultimately decided to attend other colleges.
“We have almost the same team,” said Mallory Messin ’13. “We had a good chance last year [of winning conference], but I think because we had three new freshmen last year, they came in and didn’t know what to expect and got a little flustered.”
Natalie Klee ’13 commented on the in-house competition on the varsity team.
“I think it’s good competition in the sense that we’re all almost at the same level, so we’re bringing the best out of each other,” she said.
Helping this season is Coach Arseneault’s son, David Jr. His assistant coaching duties now include both the men’s and women’s golf team, as well as the men’s basketball team.
“His extra set of eyes is already paying dividends with our women golfers,” Coach Arseneault Sr. wrote.
Also helping the team this semester is Coach Arseneault’s daughter, Jennie, who voluntarily helps instruct the team. Jennie taught professional golf in Dallas and played as an All-American golfer at the University of Virginia. Jennie also played in the 2006 U.S. Open. This fall, she is working at the Grinnell Country Club.
“She played Division I golf in Virginia, and it’s just awesome. It’s great to have her as a different insight, because she’s actually played competitively,” Klee saidw. “It’s nice to have her expertise.”
At last year’s conference, the team placed second to Carroll University. The Carroll University Woman’s golf team is in a similar situation to Grinnell’s in the fact that many of their team members are returning players.
“Both of us return our entire squads so we will have to step it up to win the conference championships,” wrote Arseneault. “We are certainly capable of doing this but we will likely have to be at our best.”
Although the competition seems to be tough, the team is confident that they can succeed at this year’s conference.
“I’m pretty excited about it. … I think we have a good chance this year,” Klee said.
“We’re just excited to see where it goes, I guess. We’re all working really hard. I think the gap has closed,” Messin said. “It’s going to be competitive again.”
The first tournament of the season was scheduled for Saturday, September 1, but it was cancelled because of bad weather connected to Hurricane Isaac.
This past Saturday, September 8, Grinnell competed in Central College’s Invitational at the Bos Landen Golf Club in their first tournament of the year. After falling four shots behind Central on Friday, the Pioneers outplayed the hosts on Saturday, defeating the Dutch by five shots, 691-696, and winning their second tournament title in school history—the first coming last year. Alex Plemmons ’15 led the Pioneers with a two-day score of 168, tying for second among individuals and earning MWC honors for Women’s Golfer of the Week.
The team will play at the Carleton College Invite this Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16 and two others after that. The four-day MWC tournament will take place October 5 through 8.