Calm and collected: junior Katie Chipman returns to green after successful summer

Courtesy / GVSU Women’s Golf Twitter

Courtesy / GVSU Women’s Golf Twitter

Kady Volmering

Junior Katie Chipman is returning to Grand Valley State women’s golf team this year as an on-the-rise athlete in Division II. As a sophomore, Chipman was named GLIAC Golfer of the Year, as well as earning a spot on the All-GLIAC First Team. She is currently among the top five golfers on the GVSU team, and is set to compete in the first tournament of the season starting Monday, Sept. 10.

In order to prepare for the upcoming fall season, Chipman played in several tournaments over the summer, which included a run at the Atlas Cup and then the GAM Championship where she placed sixth. Chipman also competed in a local US Amateur qualifier where she needed to place in the top five in order to continue on to the US Women’s Amateur tournament.

“I was on the border, and then I shot one over,” Chipman said. “The cutline was to shoot even, so I missed it by just a little bit.”

To finish up the summer, Chipman participated in the Michigan Women’s Amateur, which is split into two different kinds of play: stroke and match up. The first two days are stroke play, each day consisting of 18 holes. From there, the top 32 golfers advance on to match up play. Chipman made it through both stroke and match play and finished in the top eight rounding off the summer on a high note.

“I was able to have a caddy during all summer tournaments, so I had either my brother or my uncle on the bag for me,” Chipman said. “My uncle was able to come caddy for me for the four days of the Michigan Women’s AM, so that was cool to experience with him. He has always loved golf and he’s one of the people who got me into the sport, so having his support and playing well on the first day was really fun.”

Now that the fall season is beginning, Chipman is getting ready to head into tournament play which will determine championship qualifications in the spring. In order to prepare for the season, Chipman tries to practice a variety of  skills every day, whether that be hitting balls on the range to work on wedges or working around the green for chipping and putting.

“Something that really helps me during fall play is coming off the summer season, playing in the nice Michigan weather,” Chipman said. “Getting used to playing three or four months outside and then hopping right into playing outside in the fall has always helped me.”

During the winter off-season, GVSU has the opportunity to practice at Golf X in Grand Rapids, a facility that offers virtual play on simulators. Chipman said this type of practice is a great help to her during the cold off-season months as the stats are fairly accurate and allows for golfers to virtually play 18 holes rather than hitting balls into a net some yards away.

“We also focus on weight training with workouts about four times a week for an hour,” Chipman said. “We do practice for two hours a day in the Kelly Center, so we pull down the nets and use the mats to hit balls, chip and putt. We are pretty fortunate that Grand Valley has this facility set so that outdoor sports like golf can still practice during the winter.”  

In addition to focusing on the physical aspects of golf, GVSU head coach Rebecca Mailloux said the coaching staff has prepared Chipman for the season by helping to increase her self-confidence.

“We’ve done a lot of work with Katie over the years in developing her belief in herself and her self-confidence,” Mailloux said. “Even as good as she is, she just didn’t believe it. She’s really come a long way since her freshman year in regard to that and she’s finally starting to recognize and see how good she actually is. I believe that’s a huge testament to her performances last year.”  

Mailloux believes that Chipman’s comfort level will continue to increase as the season unfolds, building off of her experiences from last year, and could lead to more tournament victories. 

“She’s a pretty even tempered, kind of person,” Mailloux said. “Everybody responds differently on the course, but for Katie she needs to stay pretty even keel. Her overall personality is laid back, go with the flow. It helps her on game days not to get too excited, and helps her perform.”

Chipman’s main goal for the fall is to be able to travel year-round and maintain her spot in the top five in order to compete with the best teams in Division II.

GVSU opens their season at the Indianapolis Fall Invite hosted the University of Indianapolis. The team will compete all day on Sept. 10 and 11.