Athenas Golf Tees Off Early and Strong

With only nine members, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s golf team has certainly stood their ground thus far this season. They’ve competed at three tournaments in the last three weeks, outperforming schools far larger who have had women’s golf teams for decades. On Feb. 14, the Athenas dominated at the Walker Cup in Chino Hills, coming in first in the Valentine’s Day competition. The team remained hot, finishing third at the two-day SCIAC #1 tournament in Beaumont Feb. 20 and 21.

The team most recently competed in the CSU San Marcos Cougar Invitational at the St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos on Feb. 29 and Mar. 1. While its tournaments are normally on Saturday and Sunday, consuming the entire weekend, this one began early Sunday morning and lasted through Monday night. Though the athletes missed a day of classes, it proved itself a worthy oponent with a third-place finish, a huge triumph for a Division III school in a Division II tournament (there was only one other D-III school even competing).

Needless to say, the team is ready for a weekend home in Claremont, especially before their two upcoming tournaments. The Athenas will first perform in the California Lutheran University Invitational Mar. 14 and 15 at Sunset Hills Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Four days later, CMS will rally in the two-day UC Santa Cruz Invitational in Pacific Grove, Calif.

Golf is not for those who want a low-key morning. Tee-off begins at 8 a.m., but if the players want to warm up for an hour, or maybe and hour and fifteen minutes before the round starts, they need to be at the course by 6:45 a.m. The golfers also devote extra time to their sport through a rigorous travel schedule, and wake up usually around 5:45 a.m. to start the tournament days.

Needless to say, the players have mastered the art of patience through these tournaments. The match at the SCIAC #1 tournament last weekend was especially long, lasting over six hours when matches normally take between four and six hours. That’s why you have to know when to focus on the game and when to give yourself a break, according to Maya Bhat CM '18.

“It's crucial to tune in when it's your shot, to analyze what's going on, what factors are at play,” says Bhat.  “Then you have to make sure you tune out at times because you're going to go crazy if you think about golf all day.”

The team is hoping to get more spectators at their home tournaments. It’s tough to have their sport off-campus, and since home matches are on golf courses ten or fifteen minutes away from the Claremont colleges, they don’t have as much spectator support as their opponents. For now, they’re thrilled with their success at the CSU San Marcos Invitational tournament this past weekend.

Bhat chalks this up to the team's incredible talent, and emphasizes the role that team dynamic plays in the tournament outcome, even when the sport itself is individual. The group is a lot more cohesive than in years past, which means they don’t only perform stronger, but they have more fun doing so, too. Bhat has found this season much more fulfilling for this reason, and she attributes some of this bonding to an agreement the team made months ago.

“We had a leadership conference at the beginning of this year where we established the fact that we all just want to be friends and be an actual team,” she recalls. “That fosters competitiveness and a stronger support system. We have a mini-family.”

That’s one family that will only grow stronger with time. For being a relatively new team, the CMS women golfers have certainly made a name for themselves.

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