Dale McNamara tried to be politically correct at the tournament named in her honor, but daughter Melissa Luellen can’t help but laugh about how well McNamara fit into Arizona State’s victory photo. McNamara, a former Tulsa coaching legend and Title IX pioneer, showed up for the final round on Sept. 18 with a gold blazer that represented the Tulsa Golden Hurricane just as well as the golden uniforms worn by Luellen’s team. By the end of the day, she had taken her place beside Luellen, assistant coach Missy Farr-Kaye and their smiling Sun Devils.
Arizona State won the Dale McNamara Invitational for the first time at the third annual event. Luellen played for Tulsa from 1984-88 under McNamara, so taking home a trophy named after her mother was particularly special. It made a short stop in her own home before finding its place on Arizona State’s campus. Luellen teared up delivering the acceptance speech at the Golf Club of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow, Okla.
“A lot of the girls may not have known who Dale McNamara was for college golf and with Title IX,” Luellen said. “She was one of the pioneers and worked tirelessly to make things great for all of us today.”
Luellen, who won the NCAA Championship in 1988, played the Golf Club of Oklahoma a handful of times while still a Midwesterner, which was enough to be able to navigate the practice round and offer some local knowledge. Luellen’s history with Tulsa golf, which also includes a two-year stint as head coach, hardly overshadows what her team accomplished in Broken Arrow. Not since the fall of 2009 – just a few months after winning the NCAA Championship – have the Sun Devils won their season opener. That year it was the Topy Cup in Tanagura, Japan. Last year at the Dale, Arizona State let slip a 21-shot lead after 36 holes and eventually finished second to Oklahoma State.
This squad carries the players that joined the roster in the spring of 2010 to pick up an Arizona State squad that had lost so many players to graduation and the pros that it couldn’t field a team during the fall. At the Dale, junior Daniela Ordonez shot three consecutive rounds of 1-under 71 to finish runner-up individually. Arizona State counted three other players inside the top 20. A 2-over 866 total left the team three shots ahead of runner-up Florida.
“This particular group, you can’t just add the times that they’ve been here,” Luellen said. “What those kids have (done) there, coming in in 2010, they have a lot of grit and determination. They have a lot of pride.”
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NAME CHANGE: The National Golf Coaches Association has officially changed its name to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. The organization also launched a new web site, www.wgcagolf.com, and logo.
The Women’s Golf Coaches Association, formed in 1983, is a non-profit organization that encompasses over 550 women’s collegiate golf coaches from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and NJCAA programs. The association changed its name to eliminate confusion.
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SHORT SHOTS: Under first-year head coach Courtney Trimble, Louisville won its home opener, the Cardinal Cup, for the first time since 2009. Sophomore Emily Haas won the individual title, setting a tournament record in the process with a 7-under 209. . . . The University of Detroit Mercy remains undefeated this season after winning the Youngstown State Invitational on Sept. 18. The Titans also won their home opener to start the year. . . . Defending NCAA Division II national champion Nova Southeastern begins its season Sept. 21 at the Yale Women’s Fall Intercollegiate.
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Five questions with Colorado junior Jennifer Coleman, who won the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational on Sept. 18 for the first victory of her college career.
1.) You pulled away in the final round for an eight-shot victory. What was your goal at the start of the day?
My goal was to just go out there and play confident and just make as many birdies as I could, just really take advantage of the par 5s.
2.) How did the course (UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M.) set up for your game?
It definitely fit my long game. If you could hit the ball in close on all the holes or take advantage of going for the par 5s in two, it set you up basically for birdies if you could make some good putts or some up-and-downs.
3.) Where has your game come in the past year? What allows you to be a player who now can contend for a tournament title?
My game has improved a lot. My full swing has improved a little bit, it was already pretty good. It just got a little bit sharper. My chipping and putting has drastically improved.
4.) What’s it like playing on the same team with a twin (Kristin)? Do you bond well or are you very competitive?
We bond really well, we have very similar tastes and it’s nice to just have a built-in best friend who can go to the golf course with you and just have some little games or whatever. Try not to be too competitive with each other, just have a good time.
5.) Do you guys play the game the same way?
We’re pretty similar, I have a little bit more strength in my full-swing game and she has more of a strength in her short game and putting, on average. But I mean, anything can happen in the game of golf, but that’s just on average.