By Beth Ann Baldry
It’s amazing that a student-athlete who has never made less than an A could live by the following equation: bad round equals bad person.
If North Carolina-Wilmington senior Michelle Jarman could find perfection in the classroom, she reasoned, why not on the golf course?
“She valued herself with her score,” said coach Cindy Ho. “I had to finally convince her that golf’s a game. As long as you give it 100 percent effort, that’s all I can ask of you.”
When the Wilmington native quit trying to perform for the home crowd, relaxed her expectations
and infused confidence into her routine, big things began happening.
Jarman – who took medalist honors three times last season, and kicked off this fall with a runner-up showing at Alabama’s Ann Rhoads Invitational Sept. 20 – turned a corner in her game a year ago.
Heading into the final round of the Unlimited Potential/Baytree Classic last September, Jarman held a commanding five-shot lead. After a double bogey on the first hole, Jarman watched in disbelief as her closest opponent, Line Cordes, birdied four consecutive holes to close the gap.
When Jarman made another double at No. 7, hopes of her first college title seemed to be dwindling by the second.
Coastal Carolina’s Cordes sank another birdie on the eighth, but Jarman finally rolled one in on top of her. And then the floodgates opened.
Birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 by Jarman were augmented by an ace on the par-3 12th and two more birdies on Nos. 13-14. Her 7-under stretch through seven holes proved too much for the field.
A Seahawk star was born.
“That was huge,” Ho said of Jarman’s first college victory. “Had that been her first or second year, that would not have happened. She would’ve panicked.”
Jarman went on to share medalist honors at the Pinehurst Challenge and the Colonial Athletic Association Championship last season. Ho, who describes Jarman as a “classic feel player,” says
it was her work on the greens that really turned things around.
After averaging approximately 33 putts per round her freshman year, Jarman kept it below
the 30 mark most of her junior season.
This fall, UNC-Wilmington’s 4.0 force also is implementing a new mind game into her routine. After a solid summer of match play, she decided to approach every round as though she’s playing a “match” against par.
“I just realized if I could just take that mindset and play one hole at a time, it gives me something to think about other than score,” said Jarman, who opened with a 77 at the Alabama event, but rebounded with a school-record 67 the next day.
Ho uses words like first-class, brilliant and humble when talking about her team’s heavyweight. Now that all that brain power is being channeled in a positive way, Jarman can’t help but think big.
Just not perfect.