Improving step-by-step, shot-by-shot: The future of K-State women’s golf

Senior golfer Haley Vargas lines up for a putt at practice at Colbert Hills. Vargas tied for 13th place at The Bruzzy tournament. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State women’s golf will wrap up its difficult season with one last challenge at the Big 12 Championship starting on April 21.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but they’re improving and they do care deeply,” head coach Kristi Knight said. “I’ve worked very hard to get a highly competitive schedule for this program and every shot matters.”

The Wildcats have been led in scoring average by seniors Haley Vargas and Manon Donche-Gay, alongside freshman Noa Van Beek.

“They [Vargas and Donche-Gay] are both very, very steady and very diligent,” Knight said. 

The highest placement for the Wildcats this season was an eighth-place finish at The Bruzzy. Vargas led the individual leaderboard going into the final round before finishing 13th.

“It was a challenging course,” Vargus said. “There were a lot of obstacles to overcome, but we scored pretty well. Taking that as a positive and turning it into something to look forward to will be ideal.”

Accepting small victories in the face of adversity is important for the Wildcats, especially as the team builds toward something greater.

“As long as we keep having to face challenges, we are willing to work even harder to get better for the next time,” Van Beek said.

After its placement at The Bruzzy, the Wildcats took on the challenge of league play in the first ever Big 12 Women’s Match Play tournament.

“It is such a fun format, but it’s also an opportunity for the ladies to bring some new things into focus as far as competing, managing yourself and making decisions on the course,” Knight said.

K-State failed to advance to bracket play in Match Play, but there was still value in the experience.

“It was extremely disappointing in the end, but that’s part of athletics,” Knight said. “Those disappointments can lead you to success if you take ownership.”

The roster for next season will likely be centered around a young core, but Knight said that each senior plans to return for a super-senior season. K-State could return every athlete and immediately become one of the more experienced teams in the country.

“I’m really excited to get us to competing better over the course of the season,” Vargas said. “We have a great group of girls who are talented, we just need to make adjustments here and there.”

All five NCAA regional appearances for the program have come under Knight’s leadership — the most recent being in 2017 — but another could be on the horizon.

“We need to get back to that level,” Knight said. “We’ve got to get better and that comes with more consistency in the little things. Everybody pushing and pulling each other and having that mentality of this is where we belong, this is where we want to be and this is what it takes to get there.”

Freshman golfer Noa Van Beek deliberates with associate head coach Jared Helin at practice at Colbert Hills. The team is preparing for the Big 12 Championship on April 21-23. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)