Rookies grow in collegiate transition
With five freshmen on the roster, overcoming an influx of youth and inexperience this season has been challenging for the Rutgers women’s golf team.
“I’ve definitely learned that it’s so much more of a commitment than high school golf,” said freshman Melanie Chambers. “You’re constantly reminded of the responsibilities you have. I feel like I play a much bigger role here than I ever did in high school golf, even though I’m not playing [the No. 1 position] like I used to.”
The freshmen look up to the team’s veterans and captains for guidance in adjusting to college life through the first month of play.
“Honestly, I’ve been learning a lot,” Chambers said. “Not just about golf, but about handling time management and stress control from the veterans. They know all about the pressures of traveling and handling school while still being an athlete. That’s an important relationship.”
Fellow freshman Samantha Moyal believes staying focused and using time wisely is a significant learning curve.
“I think the biggest transition for me was time management,” she said. “They have us as freshmen packed throughout the day, starting with waking up 6 a.m. almost every morning, having classes until 8 p.m. and then study hall after that. In high school I had a lot more time to practice on my skills.”
Chambers and Moyal assisted the Knights’ with the last two positions on the scorecard in each of the first two events. They recorded scores of 235 and 240, respectively, at the Bucknell Invitational and 244 and 252 at the Yale Intercollegiate.
Head coach Maura Waters-Ballard is content with the development of the freshmen this season.
“Every day I see them becoming more comfortable,” she said. “Their games are starting to come around. All the freshmen look great. I think we’re going to see some great scores from them this weekend.”
With two road tournaments under their belts, the freshmen prepare for the first home tournament of their collegiate careers tomorrow and Saturday at the Rutgers Invitational.
“My first two college tournaments didn’t go as well as I hoped,” Moyal said. “I was a little bit nervous, but now my nerves have settled and I’m actually on my own home turf.”
Through gained experience and more practice on their home course, the freshmen aim to build on their early season struggles.
“My driving has been really good,” Chambers said. “It’s just around [getting better at] the greens, getting the ball actually in the hole. We’ve been doing a lot of short game in practice because we’ve all sort of been struggling in that department.”
Along with physical aspects of the game, the Knights’ freshmen mentally prepare for the event — a theme that runs through the whole season.
“The big thing for me is the mental game,” Moyal said. “College golf is another step [from high school]. To get to the next step you have to be mentally prepared for that, and we’re doing a lot of mental work along with physical swing work and putting stroke.”
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