For most people, the thought of a bed of soft, rolling Bermuda grass may conjure an image of peaceful rest. A golfer approaching a ball nestled in the grass’s treacherous cradle may envision the perilous landscape of a waking nightmare.
And for the Michigan women’s golf team, the lush North Carolina course this weekend will not produce many photogenic memories.
Battling a strong national field at the Landfall Tradition, the Wolverines spent the weekend in Wilmington, N.C. on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Pines-Ocean course at the Country Club of Landfall.
Hoping to cap a disappointing fall leg of its season with a strong finish, Michigan was plagued by inconsistency. Although the team led the field for a brief period in the first round, a late collapse in that round triggered a continued fall. An 11th-place finish in a field of 12 ensured that the Wolverines would enter an extended break from competitive play with a bitter taste in their mouths.
“I would say we had a little advantage at the start of day one,” senior captain Amy Schmucker said. “It was cold and windy, the type of rough conditions we are used to practicing in. A few rough holes ruined the possibility of a strong score.”
Schmucker – consistently the Wolverines’ most solid performer – was cruising to put Michigan ina secure position during Friday’s round. But her round was tarnished by the water surrounding Landfall’s par-three 17th island green. The aquatic barrier proved effective, claiming two of Schmucker’s approach shots and guaranteeing a water soaked triple-bogey to bloat her round’s final total to an unsightly 82. Schmucker stayed out of the water to finish the tournament with consecutive 2-over par 74’s, but the first-round blemish was impossible to hide despite a fifth straight finish in the top-20 individual golfers.
“As much talent as this team has, you couldn’t tell from the scores we have posted this fall,” Schmucker said. ” It’s frustrating to play like this in the fall season, but now we have the time for conditioning that will help us refocus on showing our capability during the spring season.”
Another hole had a similarly devastating effect on the Wolverines’ tournament hopes during the second round. A rare quadruple bogey helped the team post a total of 11 strokes over par on Landfall’s 16th during Saturday’s localized team-wide collapse that included to drop the team further on the leaderboard.
“It was definitely a tough weekend,” coach Kathy Teichert said. “Lots of double bogeys always spell trouble. We had strong starts, but the girls kept hitting a wall on the back nine. When you’re up against a tough field of teams playing in good conditions like this, you have to play well consistently, and we just didn’t.”
Michigan’s 952-stroke team total was 75 strokes behind the tournament-champion Purdue squad.
“We all wanted to end the fall season well,” junior Ali Stinson said. “Now it’s best to put away our clubs for a while, take a break and come back ready to work hard.”