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Junior Christina Park is one of four players from Penn women's golf to come from California. (Photo from Penn Athletics)

Credit: Hunter Martin

The smallest athletic team on Penn’s campus is comprised predominantly of women from the most populous state in the country. Four out of the seven athletes on Penn women’s golf are from California.

Coach Mark Anderson’s California-centric roster is a product of the state’s talent in the sport, academic goals, and interestingly enough, weather.

“I recruit from all over, but we’ve just recently ended up with a lot of them on our team," Anderson said. "The biggest thing I look at are golf scores from tournaments — I do not pinpoint a certain region at all. The girls from out West get to play year-round due to the nice temperament of the region, so that elevates their ability to practice when others have to stop due to the weather.

"The goal is to get the best players possible to join our program, and the California thing is just a total quirk in the system,” he laughed.

In addition, Penn tries to sell itself to recruits from the Golden State. 

“Due to the nature of the sport, it seems that many golfers are very academically driven and aim for the Ivy League," Anderson said. "Here at Penn, we have a solid team with great girls, get to play at beautiful courses, and have top-notch facilities with equipment that no other Ivy has.”

The allure of the East Coast has drawn in many student athletes from the other side of the country, as 24 of the 59 female golfers in the Ivy League went to high school in California.

Freshman Mary Shin from Irvine, Calif. had always known that she wanted to play golf at a school that was also elite academically. 

“I knew I wanted to play golf in college," Shin said. "I was really interested in the top academic schools, and when I visited Penn, the love I felt for the school was undeniable. I clicked with the girls and the coach, so it was a no-brainer for me to become a Quaker.”

Due to the number of Californians on the team, Shin made an easy transition from high school to college.

Credit: Sydney Loh

“The adjustment was a bit easier than expected," she said. "It obviously is a long way from home, and I was very accustomed to spending time on the course with my parents and friends. I didn’t have that coming in, but having the California connection means that I have numerous shared experiences with the other girls and just helps with our chemistry.”

Similar to Shin, junior Christina Park, from San Diego, feels that the West Coast presence has helped her throughout her time at Penn, as well.

“The adjustment was not seamless at first," Park said. "I had to learn how to be away from home, learn to live in a new place, and get used to the cold and the lack of sun. But Penn golf was great because if you’re from California, you tend to know, or know of, the other top golfers in the region. So I kind of knew of most of the girls on the team one way or another, and having similar experiences was a quick and easy way to bond quickly.”

Golf aside, these athletes clearly have a strong bond both on and off the course. Next weekend, they will compete in the Ivy League Championships at The Ridge at Back Brook in Ringoes, N.J.