After last spring’s NCAA Championship, Molinaro is a notable surname in women’s college golf. Italian Giulia Molinaro ended four years at Arizona State by making a run at the individual title and finishing T-6.
Giulia has since graduated and turned professional, but younger sister Sofia is in her freshman year at Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design. The younger Molinaro found the NAIA school after five years at the IMG Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla. While there, Molinaro always thought she’d eventually join a Division I golf roster, but the transition to SCAD has been seamless.
“I’ve been playing really well,” Molinaro said. “I like it so far.”
In five NAIA starts so far as a freshman, Molinaro has finished outside the top 10 only once. She finished T-38 and T-32 in the team’s two Division I starts. Molinaro and sophomore Alazne Urizar of Venezuela vie for the top spot on the roster. It’s a healthy rivalry, head coach Amanda Workman explains, and one that keeps both at the top of their respective games.
“It’s been awesome to have a freshman come in and be in the top five right away,” Workman said of Molinaro.
Before Molinaro arrived on campus, she finished fourth in the Under 18 Italian Girls Championship. Trading in the heavily structured schedule an academy student keeps, she has put increased attention on her short game with help from Workman. There also is a group element element that Molinaro welcomes.
“It’s more team-wise here,” she said. “We practice with groups according to class schedule.”
Molinaro is a fashion marketing major. A passion for clothing and design brought her to SCAD, the first art and design university in the U.S. to offer an intercollegiate athletics program. Molinaro’s mother, Marica Serasin, was a model back in Italy and spent part of Sofia’s childhood as a fashion buyer.
“I really wanted to study fashion,” Molinaro said. “My mom got me really interested in it because she worked in the fashion industry (in Italy). Savannah is similar because there’s so many international students.”
Aside from SCAD’s reputation for art and design, the school has developed a reputation for having a competitive women’s golf team since the move from Division III to NAIA beginning in the 2003-04 season. SCAD has advanced to the NAIA National Championship each of the past nine years. That’s part of what allows Workman to enter her team in Division I events. The Bees played two in the fall, finishing sixth of 11 at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate and 13th of 14 at the Furman Lady Paladin.
“That’s what’s neat about NAIA – you can play across divisions,” Workman said.
SCAD was ranked No. 3 in Golfweek’s preseason NAIA rankings, and currently is No. 5 in Golfstat’s head-to-head rankings. The team finished second to British Columbia at last year’s national championship by two shots. Molinaro wasn’t there, but she knows the story well.
“(Coach Workman) talks about how they lost by two shots. This year, we’re not,” Molinaro said.
It was that close call that inspired one of two distinguishing things about the Bees. The first is the string of seemingly random numbers attached to their golf bags: 52413.
“You would have to know what it is to understand it,” Workman said of the numbers’ significance. It’s the date of the final round of the 2013 NAIA National Championship, which reminds Workman’s players to stay focused.
Then there are the socks. SCAD players typically wear black and yellow striped or argyle knee-high socks when they compete. That began four years ago when a player from Sweden began wearing knee-high socks for compression purposes. The fad stuck.
“They’re very unique,” Workman said.
One would expect nothing less from a team full of future designers, artists and fashionistas.