Head coach Brenda Howe expects more from her team. She wants her golfers to not only drive the ball down the fairway but to find within themselves a drive for competition.
“We know we can be competitive,” she said. “[We’re] just trying to get that fight and drive.”
Golf is a unique sport because it has a split season. The fall season ended on Oct. 14, and spring play will not resume until Feb. 11. From now until February the team will be watching videos and working on strength conditioning, which will include weight lifting. On Feb. 11 the team will return to the golf course for a 3-day-long tournament in Arizona.
For golfers Jayme Carbon and Marissa Borja, their sport is more than just wedges and putters. It is about eliminating external distractions and becoming mentally focused.
According to Carbon, Borja and head coach Brenda Howe, the mental aspect of golfing is both the hardest and most important quality of the sport. “Golf is hard because it’s more mental than anything else,” said Howe.
Carbon agreed. “Golf is such a mental sport,” she said. “I think that’s the biggest thing in golf. Distractions can really affect your game.”
Borja considers overcoming her nerves and mental distractions the biggest success in her fall portion of the golf season. “I think my biggest accomplishment would be that I got over my freshman nerves, and probably by the second or third tournament I felt more comfortable,” she said. “I was able to step up and play to my full potential.”
Borja recalled the moment when she realized just how important the mental aspect of the game was for her. She notes one tournament in particular where she overcame the mental negativity running through her mind.
“The first day I struggled. I was seven over within the first four holes, and coach Brenda noticed,” Borja said. “I took a step back, and it was a mental game at that point.”
After that moment of recognition, Borja ended the back nine holes with a score of one over par, a big improvement from the front nine. “It made a difference to think about what I was doing. I was disappointed in myself and tried to brush it off,” Borja said. “Each hole is a new start. You have to think positive.”
According to Borja, mental positivity is crucial. When she sees potential hazards on a course, such as a sand trap, she becomes overly focused on not hitting the ball into the sand trap. “My downfall would be paying attention to the hazards or out of bounds,” she said. “I try to focus on my target and not worry about the things around me.”
Howe sees great potential in Borja, as well as the other two freshmen on the team this year, Maddie Dodge and Taylor Anderson. “Marissa is a different level player than everybody else. My hope for her is top 10 finishes. Maddie is a very methodical player. She is pretty consistent and disciplined. Taylor is a strong girl. She’s really athletic. Her goal is to hit it farther than anybody,” Howe said.
While Howe praised the younger members of her team, she urged the more experienced players to elevate their level of play. “The upperclassmen need to step it up with the freshmen giving them a run for their money,” she said. “I did not see our sophomore, junior and senior playing up to my expectations as veterans should have.”
Borja agrees that the new freshmen have plenty to contribute to the team. “We’re all bringing different perspectives,” she said. “It was different seeing how we all played.”
As a senior player, Jayme Carbon hopes the incoming freshman can look to her for an example. “With the new freshmen, I wanted to be a good leader and keep them motivated.”
Carbon also wants her love of golf to shine through to her fellow players. “I have a strong passion for golf and I hope [the continuing team] can see that in me to care and work hard,” she said.
As the golf team continues into the second half of their season, Carbon looks forward to achieving new goals. She wants to get a new personal low, as well as consistently average in the 70s.
Coach Howe also has goals for the team as they move through the rest of the year. “My goal is to be more competitive to where we’re in the same area code as the other teams.” Their next opportunity for competition, the Lumberjack tournament, will be held on the same course as the Big Sky Championship in April.