The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

A Tropical Tournament

NKU Women’s golf travels to Puerto Rico for Ball State Cardinal Classic
NKU Women’s Golf Team with coaches (Violet Lewis, NKU Athletics)

The ladies of NKU golf kick off their spring season by heading to paradise, playing their first tournament hosted by Ball State University in Humacao, Puerto Rico. 

The Cardinal Classic will be played at the Wyndham Palmas Golf & Beach Resort, and will last from March 5-7. Golfers will be traveling from across the nation to compete against 14 fellow collegiate teams such as Loyola University, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of North Carolina Greensboro and more. 

Most of the teams will arrive a couple days prior to prepare themselves for the practice round on March 4, and the 8:30 a.m. shotgun will start the following day. 

Although 10 girls are on NKU’s team, only six will travel to Puerto Rico. For this tournament, one woman will play as an individual, and the other five will compete for the team’s total score. From that, the best four scores out of five will count for NKU’s overall. 

To determine who travels for the classic, the Norse exempted the three women with the lowest scoring averages from the fall season. The remaining three spots were chosen from 72 holes of qualifying.

Led by assistant coach Melissa Yeazell, the Norse will play their rounds at the Palmas Del Mar Golf Club, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and white sandy beaches. They will be playing on the Flamboyán Course, an 18-hole championship-caliber playing course. 

Gracie Baun in action (Hailey Coleman)

“I’m very excited to play golf because we haven’t competitively since October,” said junior golfer and marketing major Reagan Nolan. “I’ve never been to Puerto Rico before and I’m excited to experience the culture and bond with my teammates. All together I think it will be a really good experience.”

Yeazell, who joined the team in September 2023, coached her first tournament on her first day on the job. She anticipates an exciting and rewarding season for the Norse. 

“What’s great about our coach is that she is a professional. She gives lessons so she really does know swings and she still plays competitively,” said junior marketing major Gracie Baun. “She gets it, she gets the struggles.”

The roster of four seniors and three juniors provides the team with lots of experience and guidance, which Yeazell hopes will take the team above and beyond this spring. 

“I would really like to see two..four [girls] would be great, step up and take more of a leadership role this season,” Yeazell said while explaining her goals for the team this season. 

Together, they created both a team goal and an individual one as a way to keep themselves focused and motivated throughout the season.

“The team collectively came up with a goal for the tournament and the season as a whole, which was to shoot under 300 points, which is around 70 for each individual golfer,” said Yeazell. 

Rigorous and weekly training over the winter months allowed the team to stay in shape and practice essential skills needed for upcoming invitationals and future Horizon League rounds.

Yeazell finds that keeping things different during practice allows the golfers to maintain their focus in the off-season. The addition of team-bonding and skill building activities– such as the recent jui-jitzu self-defense class, their focus-word bracelets and the use of the new golf simulators –creates necessary variety in their training. 

The addition of the simulators in Regents Hall, provided to the team by donations, has provided the golfers with a chance to hone in their skills right on campus. 

“Previously, before we either had to drive out to World of Golf in Florence, or we’d have to go out to the Elks which is in Batavia,” said Nolan. “So it’s nice that when it’s raining or if it’s cold, we can go hit balls on campus and not have to drive 30 minutes.”

Nolan and Baun mentioned that the team has seen their fair share of injuries over the past year. However, that does not stop both the injured and uninjured from continuing to support one another at practices and tournaments. 

Reagan Nolan in action (NKU Athletics, provided by subject)

“We have such a good team dynamic. I couldn’t ask for a better team. I really coudn’t,” said Nolan. “Everyone on our team is so inspirational to each other and we all push each other. I think that every single one of us wants our teammates to do better.”

Following the Puerto Rico Classic, the team will continue to stay busy as they challenge Tennessee Tech’s Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, on March 17-19 at Highlands Course in Sevierville, Tennessee.

After that, the Norse will advance to The Julie, their home tournament hosted at Elks Run Golf Club on March 25-26 in Batavia, Ohio.