Kansas State golf eager to get season started

Madison Talley, sophomore, practices her shot on April 7, 2015 at the Colbert Hills golf course. (File Photo by Lauren Nagle | The Collegian)

There is one thing according to head coach Kristi Knight that will make this Kansas State Wildcat women’s golf team successful this year.

Keeping their focus on what they can control.

“This has been our message to our team this year because if you get caught up with everything else going on, you will lose your energy,” Knight said, who is beginning her 20th year as head coach for Kansas State. “That will be key for us this year.”

The Wildcats are returning four players from the team last year.

Junior Madison Talley is the number one golfer from the team a year ago. Talley was the only player on the team to qualify for regionals, which took place in San Antonio.

“She is very competitive and will be able to use the experience she gained from going to regionals to her advantage this year,” said Knight. “It has provided confidence for her and played against the best of the best. She held her own and shot three rounds of even par. Her best golf is still ahead of her.”

During this past summer, sophomore Connie Jaffrey had the opportunity to play in the ladies British Open, where she shot 11 over par and finished 116 in the tournament.

“The experience at that event was like no other,” Jaffrey said. “It was a completely different and amazing atmosphere and playing with the professionals allowed me to compare my game against theirs.”

Jaffrey likes how the team is playing this year so far, and sees lots of bright tournaments in the future.

“Our team is pretty strong this year, it is filled with experience and we have 2 new comers that are strong players,” Jaffrey said. “I definitely believe we are going to be a very successful team this year.

Junior Katherine Gravel-Coursol has impressed the coaches with her body-language and attitude while on the course.

“She is very positive and rarely if ever grumpy,” Knight said with a smile. ”She has a great demeanor, which can be translated right onto the golf course with her incredible leadership skills.”

The Cats also bring back Scotland Preston, the lone senior on this year’s team.

“She puts in a lot of time on the course,” Knight said. “She has practiced very hard on her short game this past summer and we can tell.”

Paige Nelson joins the Cats after transferring from Sam Houston State.

“Paige is a great player,” Knight said. “We are very excited about adding her to our line-up. She’s already played college golf and won a college tournament before.”

Chloe Nelson will also be looked upon to help the team season as a true freshman.

“She has played all over the United Kingdom, which will help her game while she’s here,” Knight said.

Knight said she doesn’t feel like there is one person that needs to step up this, but everyone needs to for her team to be successful.

“This includes all of us, even me,” Knight said. “We have ladies that are willing to do that and they know what it takes.

The Wildcats will begin the season today as they host the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational at Colbert Hills in Manhattan. The tournament will consist of 36 holes Monday beginning at 8:30 a.m. followed by re-grouping on Tuesday before 18 holes are played starting at 8:15 a.m.

Last season, Jaffrey finished fourth and Talley got fifth in this tournament last season.

This season the field consists of 12 teams: Central Arkansas, Florida Gulf Coast, Kansas, Little Rock, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri, Nebraska, Redlands Community College, Southern Methodist, Stephen F. Austin and Texas Christian.

“Obviously, we would like to think we have some home-course advantage since we practice here every day, but that can lead to distraction, too,” Knight said. “This week is no different than any other tournament we play, except we aren’t staying in a hotel. There are lots of good schools going to be here so it will be a good test for our squad.”

The team will play a very intense fall schedule, including a meet in in Missouri, the Schooner Classic in Oklahoma and making their way to Washington for the last tournament of the fall schedule.

“The most important tournament is the next one,” Knight said. “We are excited for every one of these tournaments and we can’t overlook any of them. We have a great schedule this year.”

Knight said the goal for this year is to play in May when regionals and nationals take place.

“Like I’ve said before, the key to that is keeping our focus on the things we can control and not wasting energy on other things,” she said. “We like the team that we have assembled and we are excited to see how it unfolds.”