Golf trio eyes big things at NCAA Championships
Student Life: How are you all feeling going into nationals? It was a pretty strong fall, and maybe spring hasn’t gone as well, but you closed out with a win, and that has to feel good.
Hannah Buck: That was definitely the way we wanted to end it.
Andi Hibbert: It is nice to have some momentum going into nationals.
HB: It has been a rough spring for us, but I think we are kind of pulling it together at just the right time.
SL: The weather has been pretty poor in a couple tournaments where the team has struggled a bit. Anything you all can do about that?
Olivia Lugar: It is hard to work with 30-mile-per-hour winds.
AH: Especially when you’ve got a little tiny ball like that.
HB: I don’t think any other team really killed it out there. I feel like last spring, the weather was miserable. I feel like it rained every tournament. We kind of got used to it. This spring we haven’t had to really deal with it yet.
SL: So it’s just one of those things where you get there and see what it’s like and just make the best of it?
OL: Yeah, but the mentality is that everyone else has to play in it, too.
HB: Right, so you just have to go out and try to keep your motivation high; sometimes it’s pretty disheartening. It certainly isn’t fun. I don’t like to do it, but practicing in the rain is something you have to do occasionally.
SL: So what happens at nationals? You all are there for a week, so there must be something fun other than golf.
OL: Last year was a lot better since they stayed at a resort.
HB: It’s different this year. We were in this all-inclusive resort the last two years, and it was the best.
AH: Now we are in northeastern Indiana, like five minutes from Michigan.
HB: At least with the weather, we could get anything.
OL: It is also in the middle of nowhere, so we will see how it goes.
AH: Usually we study for finals.
HB: Yeah, we sometimes take finals there. Sunday afternoon there is a walkthrough round, so you just get to walk the course, and you can’t have clubs with you. Monday you actually have a real practice round. And then we play Tuesday through Friday.
SL: With nationals, you’re on the same course for four days—is that an advantage? What do they do to try and mess with you? How do you overcome it?
HB: They switch the pins up each day, and the pin location tends to get harder every day. I just go out and think like each day is a new day. I think the hardest part is on the fourth day when you are like, “I’ve already played this hole three times, and I haven’t played it well three times.”…I try [with] every hole to play like it’s the first time I’ve played it. I try to forget what I did the previous days.
AH: I usually try to think about the course, especially if we’ve played it before. Today on the range we were talking about specific holes, so I’ll try and almost visualize the holes —like what type of shot I want to hit—and I’ll have that mentality for every single round. I’m not trying to reflect on the previous shots that I hit every round.
HB: And the conditions are different for every single round, every day. It really just depends on how the wind is and where the pin is.
SL: So in the last poll from March, you guys stole three votes away from No. 1 Methodist University, the 24-time champions with a record of 14 back-to-back titles. That has to feel good. How do you handle those expectations going in?
AH: It is definitely a confidence booster that, at least statistically speaking, we are beating Methodist, per person per round. They are obviously a strong team—you can’t win 14 consecutive national championships without doing so. I think they’re a little nervous though. I think we actually may have an upper hand.
HB: We definitely have them scared, certainly, so that’s nice.
SL: On another note, do you all have any fun team traditions?
HB: Pre-round Subway.
AH: Pre-round Subway at every single tournament. Without fail.
SL: Does that help at all?
AH: It’s just part of the routine. We have to do it.
SL: It seems like golf takes a lot of consistency and repetition, so would some tradition like that help at all?
HB: We are joking around, of course.
AH: But it is definitely a tradition! I think the most important part, though, is warming up before a round. I know we each have our own methodology to how we go about it. I know O-bear [Olivia] likes to go putt first, where I feel like the rest of the team likes to hit first, but it just depends.
SL: Golf also seems like an individual game, so how do you all emphasize the team aspect of the sport?
OL: Being a freshman, it was actually a pretty easy transition. I kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t tell them I was coming until a week before the deadline, but it ended up being a really smooth transition because we spend so much time together during the week and over tournaments that you can’t help but become really good friends.
HB & AH (simultaneously): Aw!
OL: We always try and boost each other’s confidence before the round. We have little pow-wows, do our “Yeah, Bear” cheer.
AH: Hannah has a great pow-wow speech.
HB: Oh stop.
OL: It is individual on the course, but it is also really important to be confident, and I think being part of a team really helps that.
HB: I think it is really easy, when there are a bunch of good players on a team, to get overly competitive, and I am glad that we never got to that point. I think we are all really happy for each other when we do well, and it really doesn’t matter how we each play.
AH: We all enjoy each other’s successes.
HB: It is nice to know that one of us is always going to play well. Last weekend when I knew I was not, it was really good to say, “OK, someone is going to pick up my slack.”
AH: It definitely is an interesting dynamic, though, since golf is traditionally an individual sport. But I think it is something I have appreciated the most about collegiate golf, being able to play in a team atmosphere.
SL: What sort of things help with that team atmosphere?
HB: Practice, staying in the hotels, things like that. We spend most weekends of the school year together.
SL: On the course, you are obviously not in the same group as someone on your own team. What are your individual approaches to a specific hole? Is it different per person, or do you all try to do the same thing?
OL: I think it is very individualized because we do all have very different games and a lot of different experiences. I have to focus on every shot at a time; maybe that is a common theme. At the same time, I have different swing thoughts going on.
AH: Sometimes after rounds we will share what we did on different holes, but for the most part, it’s pretty individual.
SL: Tell me about your fans a little bit. Do you all hear from random people who say, like, “Great round this weekend” or something?
OL: I wore this sweatshirt that says “Washington University Women’s Golf,” and one of the guys at the DUC asked me, “We have a golf team here?”
AH: I feel like that is more common than anything else.
HB: Really? I don’t get that.
SL: Even I have gotten that before when I tell people I write about the golf team for StudLife.
AH: Obviously, all of my friends know how I’m performing, but in terms of total strangers, either a) they don’t know we have a women’s golf team or b) they have no idea how well we can play.
SL: So what do you all think we can do to amp up that campus presence and get you all some more fans?
HB: Win nationals.
OL: Yeah I would like to see one of those banners over Brookings —“Women’s Golf: Team National Champions.”
HB: That’s our plan right now. I mean why not? We did kind of come out of nowhere this year. But I think we have a lot of drive and determination to win nationals. We can taste it. We know that we can accomplish that.