Senior Megan Smoulder has been golfing her whole life, so as she searched for colleges, Seton Hill University stuck out because of its golf program.
“I came here purely based off of that,” Smoulder said. “I wanted to find a school that had a scholarship for golf and that was my main decision for picking my college.”
However, with a smaller roster than most other athletic teams and no local competitions, not everyone on campus is aware that the golf team even exists.
“I don’t feel like a lot of people at Seton Hill really know about us,” Smoulder said. “I feel like there has been a little bit more awareness since I was a freshman, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know.”
Despite this, the golf team has grown since Smoulder’s freshman year, when there were only four women competing. This season, there are nine women on the team, including one senior, two juniors, five sophomores and one freshman.
“We’re building as a team and getting stronger, and I feel like in the future, we’ll be better because we’ll have a bigger team,” Smoulder said.
The team is led by head coach Dustin Patrizi, who began coaching in 2015. He said the team’s growth is a “great accomplishment.”
“I am very proud of everyone that supported us and have to give many thanks to all the people that made it possible,” Patrizi said. “I believe that it makes the transition easier for incoming freshmen to feel more comfortable in a new environment.”
Although the team often practices individually at Totteridge Golf Course in Greensburg, they compete together to determine who will participate in a competition.
“Only five out of the nine can go, so we usually go play nine holes, and whoever has the lowest scores for those nine holes goes to the tournaments,” Smoulder said.
Last season, the team’s best performance was at the St. Vincent Fall Invitational, where they finished in first place. Smoulder finished first individually, followed by sophomore Heather Haas in second place and junior Emily Doell in fifth place. The team also placed sixth at last year’s PSAC Championships.
This season, the team has already competed three times. They traveled to West Virginia to compete in the Glade Springs Intercollegiate Tournament from Sept. 3-4, where the team earned seventh place. Haas placed highest individually for the Griffins at 16th.
The team then traveled to Erie, Pa. from Sept. 7-9 and placed ninth overall at the Evann Parker Memorial. A few days later, the Griffins participated in the Michael Corbett Fall Classic in Erie, Pa. from Sept. 9-10, where they tied for 13th place.
“We have made some terrific strides midseason,” Patrizi said. “A couple of the girls had been battling swing issues, but we were able to remedy the problems quickly to get them back on track. We all have high hopes going into the section championship.”
The Griffins have two more competitions in the fall season. They will travel to Brookville, Pa. for the Clarion Invitational from Oct. 7-8, and head to Hershey, Pa. to compete in the PSAC Championships from Oct. 19-21.
“I think it would be good if we could all shoot in the low 80s for the remainder of our tournaments,” Smoulder said. “I know that we’re all capable of it.”
“We can only hope that all the hard work pays off and the girls can play well individually so we can place in the top five,” Patrizi said. “I know that the team is capable of it. They just need to believe and concentrate to break down every shot accordingly.”
Update: This article has been updated with quotes from women’s golf head coach Dustin Patrizi.
Published By: Stephen Dumnich