It's not a stretch to say that women's golf is one of the most geographically diverse teams at Penn, boasting players from all over the world from California, Korea, Canada, Hong Kong, New York, and Florida. But now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, geographical distances and numerous time zones have made coordination a challenge to overcome — and one that the Quakers have taken on.
Mary Shin is a junior in the College and is currently studying from home in Irvine, Calif. Golf has been a regular part of her life during both her college and junior career, and now more than ever, Shin has noticed how the lack of a structured season has affected her routine.
"With the season, we always have stricter times for practices, and we were playing like four tournaments in the fall and the spring, so there was a certain rhythm to each week," Shin said. "But losing that was really strange to get used to, especially because I'm an upperclassman now, so it's the way that I've been doing it for the past two years."
Nevertheless, Shin and many others on the team have worked hard to maintain that semblance of structure in their lives today. During a typical season, the Red and Blue would practice four times a week at Bala Golf Club or any of the Ron Jaworski courses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with indoor training once a week.
These days, things have changed.
"Our coach is pretty flexible, letting us choose how we spend our time with the practices," Shin said. "So it's really been about each person on our team, the ability to be self-motivated and self-driven to actually find time to work out and go to the course."
For Shin, the motivation to practice comes from wanting to make the most of every minute she spends out on the golf course, finding balance in her life, and looking ahead to the potential for a spring season. And given the recent announcement to open Penn's campus in the spring, many hope to begin to practice and train as a team, although in a limited capacity.
Coach Mark Anderson points out that golf is relatively safe to play outdoors, and the conditions make it easy to socially distance compared to other sports. Many PGA Tour and amateur tournaments have been able to run rather normally in the face of other sports and leagues that have been shut down due to the pandemic.
"Outside golf is totally safe as long as you're smart about it. The hardest thing is going to be the traveling or not being able to travel with a van full of players where we can't really social distance," Anderson said.
Amidst all the challenges women's golf faces, the team members continue to make an effort to build connections and encourage each other through biweekly Zoom calls.
"I think being part of a team with only 10 people really makes it easier and more natural for us to connect better, and we've done a pretty good job of staying in touch," Shin said.
On the whole, the Quakers continue to make the best of their current situation with the hope that they will back on the course come spring.
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