Illinois women’s golf to continue spring play at Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate

The Illinois women’s golf team is set to compete at the Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate tournament from March 14-16 in Augusta, Ga., after nearly three weeks off. 

The break has given the Illini plenty of time to improve since they last competed on Feb. 24, and they have taken advantage of that.

Last weekend, the team traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to practice at the Gaylord Springs Golf Course in preparation for this weekend. Head coach Renee Slone said the trip allowed the golfers to get extra practice, work on various types of short-game shots they usually don’t see and play on a course similar to the one they’ll see this weekend, the Forest Hills Golf Course.

“It is a Donald Ross-designed course, and the green complexes are challenging,” Slone said of Forest Hills. “We don’t see too many golf courses typically throughout the season that have such severe slopes on the greens or the number of runoff areas around the green.”

Despite the challenge, the Illini competed at the course last year, and some of the golfers have been able to share tips. Freshman Emily Joers said her teammates have told her to practice higher chip shots because of the quick, undulated greens the team will face.

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Not only has Illinois been able to take advantage of familiarity, but it also made good use of the recent spring-like weather. Aside from the practice at Gaylord Springs, the Illini practiced at the Orange and Blue Golf Course in Savoy on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s been really nice being able to hit off grass because, obviously hitting in Demirjian (Illinois’ indoor golf facility), we’re hitting off turf, and it’s a lot different feel than hitting off grass,” Joers said. 

After being confined to indoor practices, the outdoor practices have really given the Illini confidence and allowed them to become reacclimated with the feel of grass. They’ve also become more confident in their skills, as each golfer has been able to really hone in on what she needs to.

Joers has emphasized her ball striking, which was one of the areas that needed work after the Westbrook Spring Invitational. The biggest problem for Illinois, though, was a lack of aggression.

“We have discussed that and talked about importance of when a golf course presents opportunities, we have to be ready for that and be prepared to take advantage of those opportunities and go in with that mindset that, ‘Yes, I’m going to be aggressive,’” Slone said. “And then also, understanding that there’s a time and a place to be aggressive, and then there are other times where you may need to take a more conservative approach and just realizing the differences in those situations and being able to assess those situations.”

Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and @wijangco12.