WOLCOTT, Colo. –- Upon landing the head coaching job at UC Davis, one of the first orders of business for Anna Temple was shopping for tableware. Temple, who had spent the four previous years as an assistant coach at her alma mater California, had very little to move from Berkeley, Calif., to nearby Davis. The life of a college golf coach allows for little time at home, so Temple had yet to put down roots since graduating college in 2004.
Temple’s transition from one town – and school – to the next has been rushed yet seamless. When former UC Davis head coach Anne Walker took the head coaching job at Stanford halfway through the summer, the Aggies spent much of the next two months with no one at the helm. Temple arrived on campus Aug. 27, and her team came Sept. 10. UC Davis competed for the first time at last week’s Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational, finishing sixth.
For four of five players in UC Davis’ lineup at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Red Sky Golf Club is a familiar venue. The Aggies have played here the past two years, and finished five shots short of the title last year. After Monday’s opening 4-over 292, UC Davis is in solo third, trailing leaders Pepperdine and Oklahoma by six shots.
“It was nice that there was a level of familiarity,” said Temple, who got to know some of UC Davis’ players while at Cal. She searched for words to describe the openness she’s received from this team in the short time she’s been with them.
“Top to bottom, they’re awesome girls and awesome players,” Temple said. The majority of her lineup this week hits a long ball, which is why she thinks the Aggies have excelled at Red Sky. The mountain layout favors long hitters, especially those who can survive on slick greens.
Demi Runas’ game fits that description. She was the low Aggie on Monday with a 1-under 71 that she said didn’t come easy.
“I played really consistent today and I had a little hiccup on the back side but that course will do that to you,” she said. “We talked about that actually. Being really focused and really aware on this golf course.”
Runas carries more responsibility this semester as one of two senior leaders for UC Davis. Runas and Amy Simanton have taken ownership of this program, which is a trend that seems to repeat itself on this roster. UC Davis has experienced tremendous growth in the past four years, likely for that reason. Runas says one of the reasons she chose the school was to play for Walker, so it was bittersweet when Walker left the Big West powerhouse for a Pac-12 school. Runas, however, doesn’t want that growth to stop, which is why she and Simanton were part of the selection process for Walker’s successor.
“We wanted to make sure the program continues to move forward like it has in the past couple years,” she said. “UC Davis means a lot to both of us.”
Runas still remembers the day Walker broke the news. She was on the golf course when she missed a phone call, a voicemail and a text from Walker. She knew it was serious, and by the time the two spoke, there were tears. A summer of uncertainty followed.
Two months later, at the end of a long, windy day at Red Sky, UC Davis huddled in the corner of the clubhouse veranda for a team meeting. Temple already fits right in to an easygoing UC Davis squad. They’ve worked well together in the few weeks they’ve know each other.
At the beginning of the week, Temple got a little lost navigating the mountains that surround Red Sky. Luckily her upperclassmen were there to shout directions from the backseat. She won’t need that direction for long.