The Oregon women’s golf team, ranked No. 36 in the country by GolfStat.com, hopes that its assortment of ages and skill sets will translate to consistency prior to resuming the season in February.
“We have such a great mix of girls,” Cathleen Santoso said. “It’s an advantage that we have.”
While most teams boast either youth or experience, the Ducks have both. The four mainstays on the traveling team, senior Cassy Isagawa, junior Caroline Inglis, sophomore Cathleen Santoso and freshman Kelsey Ulep, each represent a different class.
“When we travel together, we heed all these different experiences,” Santoso said. “We get to play some of the courses (multiple times), so being able to tell the freshmen or learning from the seniors, it’s great.”
Coach Ria Scott points to Greens in Regulation (GIR) as the key stat that the team must improve upon this winter. GIR records how many times a player reaches the green in the expected amount of shots. For instance, players must hit the green in one shot on a par 3 for the hole to count as a GIR.
“We hear over and over that GIR is king and is the number one factor in scoring,” Scott said. “We’ve really put a lot of focus on that and hopefully that focus will pay off in the end.”
Inglis and Santoso, the best and most consistent players in the fall, repeatedly exemplify the significance of limiting shots prior to hitting the green. Both consider themselves “par players.” While their drives typically don’t make jaws drop, they still find ways to rack up pars.
“We’re pretty similar in so many ways where we’re not the best ball strikers out there, but we can get around the course and produce the numbers,” Santoso said.
On the other hand, Isagawa, a three time All-American, and Ulep, a highly-touted freshman, dazzle spectators with long drives that sometimes result in birdies. Their short game, however, has hampered them at times, leading to bogeys.
“Cassy and I hit it pretty long,” Ulep said. “That’s when we do our best. Our short game isn’t as strong as our long game, but we both have to work on the same things.”
The team believes that Isagawa and Ulep’s consistency issues can be corrected and that their ball striking ability can make them just as dangerous as anyone on the team.
“A lot of the girls out there can score birdies and I think that’s a great thing because once we eliminate the bogeys, that goes to show how low (our scores) can go as a team,” Santoso said. “You can’t teach someone to make birdies, but hopefully you can eliminate the bogeys.”
At the very least, the team hopes to salvage pars whether or not they are hitting the ball well.
“You can have a great score in golf and never hit a really good shot,” Scott said. “You can have a bad score in golf and hit a bunch of good ones, so it’s really just us figuring out how to make it work.”
The Ducks may have the talent to contend with some of the nation’s top schools, but will need to be more consistent from hole-to-hole. Fortunately for them, they need not look further than their own teammates for assistance.
Follow Jack Heffernan on Twitter @JHeffy13