This spring, the Penn women's golf team looks to improve upon the strides it made this past fall in its first full season with varsity status. The spring season kicks off with the William and Mary Invitational April 1-2, in Williamsburg, Va. After that, the team will travel to Bethpage, N.Y., for the Ivy Championships April 15-16. But like many college students, the Quakers will be traveling down to Palm Beach, Fla., for spring break -- to get in some rounds at the storied PGA National course. Penn will also compete in the East Carolina University Invitational March 16-18, as a warmup to their April matches. "The ECU [tournament] will be a good chance to see how we're playing," senior captain Natasha Miller said. Coach Francis Vaughn, who also coaches the Penn men's team, has set team goals in terms of enjoyment and progress rather than scores, and his players have taken those goals to heart. "We're looking forward to [the spring season] with a lot of optimism," junior Jen Schraut said. "[Our goals] are to have fun and to keep improving." In three tournaments this past fall the Quakers showed steady improvements in their overall scores, even if their tournament placements did not reflect that effort. In their third and final tournament of the fall, October's Rutgers Invitational, the Red and Blue recorded the lowest score in their short history, shooting a 391 on the first day. They followed this up with an even better showing the next day, as they carded a 381 on Saturday. The two-day score of 772 was a drastic improvement over the 857 that the team shot in their first tournament of the season and may be a mark of good things to come for Penn. Since the winter prevented the Quakers from practicing outdoors at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the five members of the team spent the offseason honing their games using a new computer system within their indoor practice facility in Hutchinson Gymnasium. As the golfer hits the ball into a net, a video camera records her form. She can then set up a split-screen in which she can compare her technique to either another one of her own swings or that of a professional. "We worked on our swings with coach [Vaughn] -- that helped a lot," Schraut said. "The past couple of weeks we've been able to actually get outside and practice some." With the arrival of warmer weather, the team should have plenty of opportunities to get in some rounds before its first match at the beginning of April. For now, though, the current squad would just like to keep building on its success, asserting that the sub-400 rounds they recorded at Rutgers are a reasonable expectation for both spring tournaments. "Our goal is to keep up the pace we had in the fall," Miller said. "We want to keep team morale up and make sure that we make constant improvement." Prior to this year, the women competed as members of the Penn golf program as part of a mixed team. However, the combination of interest by the student body and a generous gift of $250,000 from the Pappas family provided the funding to boost the women's golf program up to varsity status.Comments powered by Disqus
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