The early birdie gets the worm: Annie Mascot drives to early career success
The Washington University golf team has gotten off to a great start. They won three of their first four competitions, including topping the NCAA Preview on Sept. 14-15. Over the course of a month, they have risen from No. 9 in the country to No. 3.
Freshman Annie Mascot has been a major player in the Bears’ success. She placed in the top three of all four competitions she competed in so far this semester. She won her first college tournament, a dual against NAIA William Woods University, and tied with senior Samantha Haubenstock for first at her second college tournament, the Rhodes Classic. Mascot already looks like one of the premier golfers in Division III.
But Mascot likely has not played her best rounds of collegiate golf yet.
“I knew she was capable of shooting the numbers she’s shooting, and she’s shot a few personal bests this summer that were even lower than what she’s shot here already,” head coach Mary Swanson said. “It’s been exciting. I think last week, she wasn’t quite on her game. But [she] pushed through [and] birdied her last hole. She had set a goal of 74 or better and she shot 73. We’re going to have to push her even to lower those goals at times. It’s a good position to be in.”
An off week for Mascot was still strong enough for a third-place finish in the Lindenwood-Wash. U. Dual last weekend.
Mascot’s quick ascension to a high-level competitor was enabled by work that she put in during the summer. Learning many of the more advanced concepts of golf and grasping more of the mental aspects of golf has turned Mascot into consistent high finisher.
“Annie dedicated herself to EPS—Elite Performance Systems—and she really dedicated herself to mastering as much as she could,” Swanson said. “She has such a good grasp of the foundations and the concepts at their foundations. She knows how to prepare. She knows how to train specifically for golf. She knows how to goal-set.”
“It’s more of a mental management system than just working on my technique,” Mascot said. “It’s helped me in the regard of training me to think more positively about myself and about my game.”
Her grasp of those concepts has allowed her strengths to consistently shine through. Mascot’s drive, for example, has been one of the strongest parts of her game so far this season.
“She drives the ball fairly long, which gives her shorter clubs into the greens.” Swanson said. “If you look at the game at all levels—college, professional, high-level amateur—it’s a power game. If you can hit it far and you can hit it relatively straight, it’s a lot easier to get a 100-yard shot on the green than a 150-yard shot. Her length is definitely an asset.”
Mascot’s stroke has drastically improved over the last couple years. After switching instructors two years ago, she changed her technique and started improving by leaps in bounds—from a golfer who used to score in the 100s-range to one who regularly shoots in the low 70s.
More recently, Mascot has been polishing her putting game.
“She’s worked very hard on putting,” Swanson said. “Distance putting, getting those longer putts within a three-foot radius, and then being able to make those three- and four-footers repetitively. She has a lot of confidence.”
The team that Mascot joined looks very different than last year’s golf team. She was one of five freshmen to join this season. There are currently only three non-freshman members of the team.
“It’s taken quite a bit of dedication from the three of us who are returning,” senior Emily Carnes said. “It is a little challenging to have over half of your team be first-years. But I think what we’ve been trying to do is build a very welcoming environment to help them feel more comfortable as Wash. U. student athletes and as golfers. And hopefully in the end, that’s what motivates them to play well on the golf course and integrate more effectively into Wash. U.”
While the influx of freshmen poses its own challenges, it also offers an opportunity for the team to further establish a collaborative culture.
“We’ve really got a group that’s very committed,” Swanson said. “They care about one another, they work hard for one another. I think that can be a unique atmosphere because golf is an individual sport.”
The team’s culture and dedication to each other has been another factor driving Mascot’s early success.
“My other teammates are absolutely incredible,” Mascot said. “We have such a great team dynamic and great chemistry. I can really tell that we’re playing for each other and not playing for ourselves, which has ultimately helped my game because it’s given me some extra motivation to do well for them.”
Her efforts to integrate herself with the team and its culture have not gone unnoticed.
“Annie is a great person. She’s very dedicated, not only to her golf game, but also her teammates and their personal lives,” Carnes said. “She’s interested not only in her own game but also her teammates’ [games]. That’s been noticed and much appreciated by all of us.”
Swanson concurs with that assessment.
“She’s enthusiastic; she always has a smile on her face; she is engaging.” Swanson said. “She asks questions of her teammates. She knows how to take care of herself and get what she needs to get done to help the rest of the team. But I think she’s also genuinely interested in investing her time into getting to know her teammates. And you can see that from how she acts around them. Being a part of the program matters to her and you can see that from her actions.”