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The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Women’s golf coming soon

Seattle Pacific’s next sport on track for 2024
Seattle Pacific University Sophomore Adam Haagenson hits a drive on the 12th tee at West Seattle Golf course on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, in Seattle. A home course has yet to be chosen for the Womens golf team which is set to tee off in the fall of 2024. (Rio Giancarlo)

After being postponed twice, the women’s golf program at Seattle Pacific University is finally on track.

SPU’s athletics department announced in November of 2023 that women’s golf would be introduced to their sports roster. The start of the program was later postponed to the fall of 2024.

The program’s postponement was previously attributed to the transition period the school experienced in 2023. As SPU searched for a new dean and athletics director, they felt it was best to start the program when both positions could weigh in.

With both positions now filled, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Compliance Officer Kali Barber is sure the department is on track to inaugurate the golf program in the fall of 2024.

“We are on track to have golf started in the fall of 2024 and competing in the GNAC. We’ll recruit as much as we’re able to over the summer and even hold tryouts for people on campus,” Barber said.

Barber shared one thing they are seeking in a coach is their ability to, and experience with, working on a smaller budget with a small school.

“Every school is different about recruiting a potential coach, but we just ask them what they’re planning to do with the program knowing it’s new and what their history is recruiting with a small budget,” Barber said.

Athletics Director Dan Lepse has shared the department’s hopes to have settled on a coach within the next month.

“We’ve talked to a lot of people in the college golf area to get insights on what they recommend. Unanimously, they said to get someone with experience in college golf [because] it’s unique from professional golf or amateur golf,” Lepse said. “We’ve talked to not just Division II levels but to other levels as well to solicit an idea of what they looked for [when hiring a new coach].”

Lepse explained that golf team formats use a unique scoring system. In strokeplay, for instance, the winner is determined by the lowest total number of strokes taken throughout the game. Stableford formats, on the other hand, decide the winner based on the number of strokes taken on each hole by each player or by the whole team.

Once the new coach has been hired, Barber plans to immediately discuss with them what equipment they would like for the facilities, which will be developed in an area set aside within SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.

“We wanted to get a coach in here to make the final decisions on specific equipment that they think would benefit the golf program: golf bags or simulators or drivers,” Barber said. “I’ve got a list [of brands] for when the coach gets here. That’s one of the first things we’re going to do, is sit down and put the final touches on the golf simulation room the athletes will be using.”

With the recent budget cuts affecting athletic scholarships and travel funds, Lepse and the athletics department made sure to earmark a previous budget so that resources would not be taken away from other sports.

“That’s always a concern, but we knew we were adding golf, so there were some funds set aside for that,” Lepse said. “Granted, it will be our first go, but we have a ballpark idea of what that will cost, but we are budget-conscious. This first year will be a big learning experience.”

Regarding recruitment, Barber and Lepse expect the roster to be filled by incoming freshmen and current Falcons.

“Maybe there are some golfers on campus, or maybe there are some who’ve never played golf before, and they want to try something new,” Barber said. “There probably is the possibility of using the transfer portal, [but] that’s going to be a real hard stretch. The high school environment and the student body on campus is going to be the majority of where we’re going to start.”

California State University Los Angeles’ head women’s golf coach Hans Kersting has coached their team for six years ever since their inaugural season in 2017. As someone who led a team during its debut season but was also a first-time coach at the time, Kersting offered some advice for SPU’s new program.

“We were a startup program, and so my greatest challenge was finding players, trying to determine what type of schedule we would play, the department determining what the budget would be for golf,” Kersting said. “My number one challenge was trying to recruit players to a team that didn’t have a history.”

Kersting named one of the most important aspects of starting the golf program was fostering a healthy team culture.

“The relationships that you’re going to have with your team and the relationships they are going to have with each other are going to take time to develop, but they are going to be the most important part,” Kersting said. “To me, the more support a student-athlete gets emotionally, the more it helps get their head and their focus in the right place. You can have a team of seven to ten girls, but getting one with the wrong attitude disrupts everything.”

Once that culture is established, Kersting warns that the next step is to learn from the inevitable bumps in the team’s first outing.

“You got to learn to swallow your pride and take the bumps and bruises [because] your team probably won’t play very well that first year, depending on what kind of roster you develop, but you have to learn from it,” Kersting said.

Kersting’s final word of advice was for SPU to keep reaching out and asking for help from other schools in the conference.

“Those first few months, I was relying on the assistance of other coaches. I would have some coaches that would forward prospective student athletes’ contact information that they didn’t have room for, and I would follow up with them,” Kersting said. “My biggest bit of advice is to try to piggyback off the schedules of other schools in your conference and try to get invited to those events. Try to copy where they travel, how they travel and where they stay.”

With women’s golf’s inaugural season at SPU fast approaching, the athletics department is ever-confident and looking forward to its start.

“Everybody is really, really excited to have this golf program, it’s going to be a great opportunity,” Barber said. “The coaches are really excited about the golf simulation and to maybe get a few free lessons out of our new coach.”

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About the Contributors
Uriah Aguon, Sports Editor
Uriah is a junior English: Creative Writing major. He has been with the Falcon since his freshman year, starting as a features writer, and is now the sports editor. Uriah hopes to remain on the Falcon staff throughout his time at SPU and continue writing in journalism following graduation.
Rio Giancarlo, Chief Photographer
Rio is a sophomore visual communication major with a minor in photography. Rio manages a team of photographers and illustrators to supply content for the greater SPU media groups. Before he took his current position he worked as a staff photographer, mostly covering sports. When not working for The Falcon he works for the SPU athletic department and as a freelance photographer. In his free time you can find him skiing, or wishing he was skiing. 
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