sports.girlgolf.ucrathleticsTitle: Women’s golf is already focused on next season’s success

By: Jonathan Hammond SSW

UC Riverside’s women’s golf concluded their season at the NCAA Regionals in Stanford on Saturday, May 7. The result was not at all what the team would have hoped for, as they finished 16th out of a field of 19, but while Head Coach Mary Ritchie admits they “could have played better,” she refuses to deem the showing a failure. For most programs, getting to a regional tournament at all would have probably been seen as a successful season, but Ritchie is not running most programs.

Ritchie wants the Highlanders to use the experience from regionals to feed their hunger for getting better. In order to do this, Ritchie had every player sit down with her to discuss their growth and how they can improve by “compiling their stats … how many tournaments they competed in  what their low scores were” and she compares the current stats with last year’s. These interviews are the first part of the calculated off-season program Ritchie plans to implement to further develop this team’s talent.

These players as well as Ritchie waste no time with said development, as the ladies can “use the summer months for (unlimited) one-on-one coaching.” During these summer practices the team breaks down swing mechanics with Ritchie or private swing coaches and analyze “parts of their game that directly lead to scoring.”

While Ritchie wants the Highlanders to “be addicted to hard work,” she also wants to make sure that her team remains “curious, excited, and analytical about their games” whilst developing their performance in areas such as the short game and driving.

It’s obvious UCR is talented, but more importantly they are motivated and driven to succeed despite all they’ve accomplished in the last year. They are also a truly united team, rather than a group of golfers, and that is a priceless tool to have in the process of making it back to regionals. While it is true this team has a stand-out star in freshman Jakeishya Le, there are seven other ladies who have contributed to this season’s success. Every player on the Highlanders has bought into the idea of truly working hard and that they cannot succeed without each other, and they will only grow closer and sharper as Ritchie’s off-season program begins.

Not only is the entire group returning next season for the Highlanders, but Ritchie has also signed two new recruits — Hailey White from Danville and Emily Keeler from Lake Elsinore — who she believes will help bolster this program even more. Most programs throughout the Big West Conference will have most of their golfers returning, so Ritchie and the women do not have the benefit of their competition being weakened by departing pivotal players. Of course, they will not need it because the Highlanders have the experience of a winning season as well as the desire to work hard all summer in order to return to regionals.