Samson’s Scorecard: First Hole

On-course practice is the key to the team’s success


Photo from QU Athletics

Junior Leeyen Peralta was named MAAC Player of the Week after tying for first place in the Gardner-Webb Invitational.

Brendan Samson, Podcast Producer

The Quinnipiac golf team will pile into two 12-person vans and make the 13-hour trek down to Hilton Head, South Carolina, on March 19, for its second tournament of the season. With 10 days until then, let’s take inventory of the team after its first taste of competition this past weekend.

The Bobcats finished third of seven schools this weekend in the Bright’s Creek Invitational hosted by Gardner-Webb University down at the Bright’s Creek Golf Club in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

While there is plenty of room to improve, the third-place finish is an encouraging one as the team ended just two strokes back from second place. Quinnipiac finished 40 over par for the tournament, a better score than four schools, and only behind Gardner- Webb who finished 38 over and Jacksonville State at 27 over.

Head coach John O’Connor said the tournament showed the importance of on-course practice.

“Having to compete on a very difficult golf course for the first time, with practically no outside experience prior to competing, makes it very difficult,” O’Connor said. “You’re just not accustomed to hitting the ball off the grass when you’re practicing indoors like this.”

Most of the team’s practices have come indoors in the simulator room, but the team got outside for nine holes before heading down to Tar Heel State and playing a practice round of 18 holes at the course.

Senior Elena Lopez and the golf team head to South Carolina during spring break for their second tournament (Photo from Rob Rasmussen/QU Athletics)

With only 36 holes of actual golf under its belt, the team entered the tournament looking to shake off some rust. That rust didn’t stop junior Leeyen Peralta from posting a score of two shots over, tied for first place.

Despite posting the best score, Peralta still sees areas she can improve in.

“I definitely think that I have a lot more work to fix in my game, but I think I’m on the right track with practice and my swing,” Peralta said. “On the course, I was feeling good about my game, so I try to stay on that, keep that feeling going as long as I could.”

Peralta was not the team’s only top-10 finisher. Junior Kaylee Sakoda finished tied for eighth, and O’Connor saw noticeable improvement in her game throughout the round.

“Kaylee started out with an 82, which is really high for her, but she came back and shoots a 71 on the same day, which is just remarkable,” O’Connor said. “But that’s getting adjusted to playing again.”

The rest of the team saw similar progression to Sakoda throughout the weekend, shooting a combined 12 strokes better as a team on the second day of the tournament.

While improvement will inevitably come when the weather yields practice outside, the team will need to make the most of the golf simulator in the meantime. Unfortunately, putting was the Bobcats’ biggest weakness in the tournament, something that is difficult to simulate indoors.

“It’s not the same as putting a 40-foot putt on an undulating green that breaks every which way,” O’Connor said. “It’s hard to simulate that.”

As Quinnipiac prepares for its trip down to Hilton Head, it will look for more consistent play.

The Bobcats sought to find this consistency when members from the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, Connecticut, came to campus to evaluate the players on March 4.

The golf instructors from the center assessed every part of the team’s game, having the players complete strength, putting and chipping tests.

The players also did a nine-shot test to help work on their shot shape. The test consisted of three low shots, three middle shots and three high shots, for each of these three shots, they were then asked to hit one draw, one fade and one straight.

“It’s just a very good way to determine where your weaknesses are and what you need to work on,” O’Connor said.

The team will stay in a house together when they head to Hilton Head during spring break to take on 15 other schools, something Peralta is looking forward to.

“That’s definitely one of the more fun weeks of the spring season,” Peralta said. “Being in a house full of my friends and my teammates, making memories, that’s always something I look forward to.”