Tristyn Nowlin is newest Illini women's golfer

By Ryan Wilson

When Tristyn Nowlin’s dad brought his 8-year-old daughter to a summer junior golf clinic at the Gibson Bay Golf Course in Richmond, Kentucky,RB PGA golf coach Jason Eberle noticed Tristyn immediately stood out from the other golfers.

“Of all the junior golfers we’ve had at our golf course, she’s probably the best, most dedicated at practicing golf,” Eberle said.

That dedication and focus paid off.

Nowlin, now a junior at Madison Central High School in Kentucky, signed the letter of intent Nov. 13 to join the Illinois women’s golf team in the fall of 2016 on a golf scholarshipRB. She chose Illinois over Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky due to the Fighting Illini’s “incomparable” Demirjian Golf Practice Facility with heated bays and different kinds of grasses, she told the Richmond RegisterRB.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tristyn and her parents to the Fighting Illini family,” Illinois head coach Renee Slone said in a press release.

Nowlin will bring mental stability with her to Illinois. Nowlin does not stress her poor shots or get too excited on the better ones. She started the first two holes of the 2015 American Junior Golf Association Championship at 3-over. But she came back and finished in third at 2-underRB.

“That just goes to show that she didn’t let a rough start affect her in any way,” Slone said. “In fact, it may have been motivation.”

Nowlin also will bring consistency to Illinois. She once made six straight birdies in an AJGA event in the summer of 2014RB.

“She is extremely consistent at a game that’s very, very difficult to be able to be consistent,” Eberle, a professional golfer for 21 years, said. “She just hits the ball about the same way every time.”

Nowlin won two Region 7 championships and placed in the top five three times in two seasons with the AJGARB.

She is ninth in the 2016 class of the AJGA Polo Golf Rankings, which helped her become one of 48 girls from 21 states, China, Thailand and Japan to earn the 2015 Rolex Junior All-American by the American Junior Golf AssociationRB.

Nowlin led Madison Central to its first-ever state title after shooting a 67 in the final round of the 2015 Kentucky High School State ChampionshipRB.

“So many of her teammates followed her lead and have seen what she has done,” Slone said. “It’s played a large role in the team being so successful.”

Despite the accomplishments, Slone said Nowlin needs to spend her senior year of high school improving her shots from 125 yards from the hole and in. Nowlin also needs to become stronger. High school golfers — with their varied skill levels from beginner to near-college level — play on shorter courses than those at the collegiate level.

But even then, Nowlin brings national experience to the Fighting Illini.

Slone started recruiting Nowlin in 2013. And last January, Nowlin verbally committed to join Illinois.

“Usually during the high school season and the summer season you are kind of stressed, worrying about, ‘Is this coach watching? What if I have a bad day?” Nowlin told the Richmond Register in January. “It’s good to have that off my chest and just play now.”

Katherine Hepler is the only Illinois women’s golfer to graduate after this seasonRB. Stephanie Miller and Emily Joers are expected to graduate after next seasonRB.

The Illinois women’s golf team finished in the top 10 at four of its five tournaments this fall.RB Nowlin, however, tied for second and won and finished third in her last three tournaments, respectively.

“I am very happy for her and her family,” Eberle said. “I’m very proud.”

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