Illinois women’s golf to conclude regular season at Lady Buckeye Spring Invite

The regular season is coming to a close for the Illinois women’s golf team as this weekend’s Lady Buckeye Spring Invite in Columbus, Ohio is the last competition before Big Ten championships.

Despite the poor performances the Illini have had throughout the spring, they’re feeling confident heading into weekend. It’s one of the things they’ve been working on in practice to prepare.

“We’ve actually kind of just been working on our confidence and competitiveness,” senior Ember Schuldt said. “At this point in the season, we’re all pretty much squared away with swings and stuff like that, so it’s just a matter of just feeling confident and ready to go and ready to compete this weekend.”

Illinois will join 11 other teams, six of which are also in the Big Ten, at the invitational to compete at the Scarlet Golf Course. The Illini are hoping to use this weekend’s experience to assist them with the upcoming conference championship.

“There’s quite a few good teams at this Ohio State tournament, so we’re looking to obviously compete with them and show them that we’re just as good as them, if not better, and just really look forward to postseason,” Schuldt said.

The Scarlet Golf Course is one Illinois has competed at before, so the familiarity will give the team an advantage. Schuldt played there last season, and knows the course plays longer than other courses the Illini have played so far this season. The course also features deep bunkers, so the golfers have made sure to prepare for that as well.

The fact that the course is in the Midwest also gives Illinois an edge because of the grass variation.

“The rough is a little bit thicker and longer than what we’ve played,” freshman Stephanie Miller said. “We’ve played in South Carolina and Florida, which is Bermuda grass, which is way different than the grass up here in the Midwest area, which is bent grass or Kentucky blue grass, which is thicker and a little bit harder to get through than the stuff on the east coast. That’s what we play here. We know how to play in it, and we know when to take our medicine and when to go for it. That’s what we got to do.”

Illinois can’t simply rely on this familiarity, though. So far this spring, the Illini have failed to place in top five in any tournament. Their last tournament was the Intercollegiate, where they placed 15th out of 19 teams. One of the things Slone wants from her team this weekend is “to really stick to our process and really put together three solid rounds.”

Schuldt added that there have been individuals who’ve had good tournaments, so it’s a matter of everyone being consistent and clicking at the same time. If the Illini can do that and focus on themselves, their goal of a top-five finish can become a reality. The team has experience finishing in the top-five in tournaments, having achieved that distinction in all five of the team’s fall competitions.

“It doesn’t matter about what anybody else does,” freshman Stephanie Miller said. “Everything will fall out and fall into place, and if we just play for score, that’s really all we need to do. And it’ll happen.”

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