GVSU ties for third at Tierney Invitational

GVL / Emily Frye
Senior Kelly Hartigan

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Senior Kelly Hartigan

Nick DeMaagd

Cooped up inside the Kelly Sports Center for the last few months, the members of the Grand Valley State women’s golf team finally got to stretch their legs last week at the Tim Tierney Invitational in Vallejo, Calif.

Over the course of the two-day event, No. 6 GVSU shot 35-over-611 across 36 holes to tie for third place. Although the team wasn’t able to practice outdoors until days before the tournament, senior Kelly Hartigan and junior Gabrielle Shipley played well, tying for third place individually with 2-over 146s.

Hartigan now has three top-five finishes in GVSU’s last four tournaments, while Shipley has finished third or better in five of the team’s last six events. Hartigan made her mark on the par 5s while Shipley took advantage of the par 3s.

“It’s a wonderful feeling being back outdoors,” Shipley said. “We’ve been hitting indoors for the first four months, which has definitely been a setback for us.”

In the past, GVSU has struggled at the beginning of the season when it comes to the short game, but a concerted effort in practice seemed to pay off. Julie Guckian (15-over 159), Alex Taylor (16-over 160) and Danielle Crilley (29-over 173) also carded solid scores for GVSU.

“Practicing good irons control and taking time out of our schedule to our short game even indoors has really helped,” Hartigan said.

Constant practice and strong fundamentals aren’t the only reasons for GVSU’s success.

Hartigan said that having a small roster and a great coaching staff have really helped the players prepare for the spring portion of their season, adding that the mental side of playing 18 holes for 4-5 hours a day is just as important as the fundamentals.

“Everyone has their own mental struggles,” she said. “The coaches preach about the mental game, what you need to do under pressure, and sometimes it comes with experience. We have a positive coaching staff that allows for a lot of one-on-one coaching to help each player work on their own game.”

Coach Rebecca Mailloux said a lot of the team’s training is on the mental side of things. She said the Lakers are tasked with using different techniques to keep from being distracted.

“I want them to be able to focus on their game,” Mailloux said. “I’ll tell them to sing or whistle a tune to themselves or listen to the sounds around them to keep them focused on their game.”

That mental focus will be key as the Lakers prepare for their next outing. GVSU will be back on the course at the Perry Park Spring Fling from March 21-22.