2005: Winning does wonders for Campbell
Attention NCAA Division I players: Don’t feel sorry for Charlotte Campbell.
The Rollins College junior is doing just fine in her Division II digs. In fact, she’s thriving.
Campbell, a two-time team and individual NCAA Division II national champion, is tired of going to amateur events and getting razzed by friends who play for big-name schools.
“It’s just stereotyped so badly,” said Campbell of small-school golf. “But at the same time, it’s like ‘I’ve still won six tournaments, how many have you won?’ ”
Campbell played in her fifth South Atlantic Ladies Amateur Jan. 12-15 and finished tied for fifth, 13 shots behind a junior golfer bound for Arizona and nine back of a player headed to Georgia next fall. But she doesn’t envy those wide-eyed teens.
Had Campbell gone to college farther from her Lake Mary, Fla., home, chances are she never would’ve begun her weekly workouts with Kai Fusser, the trainer responsible for Annika Sorenstam’s physical transformation. And had Campbell not found Fusser, she wouldn’t be taking her swing cues from Henri Reis, Sorenstam’s longtime instructor.
Neither professional heavyweight is affiliated
with Rollins, but the liberal arts school has provided the stage for Campbell to test her sharpened skills. Sixteen top-10 finishes in 21⁄2 years and six tournament victories have done amazing things for the 21-year-old’s confidence. Not to mention those two national championship rings.
“You definitely have to learn how to win, but you also have to have the opportunity to win,” said Campbell. “If I had gone to a big school, I would’ve gone hitting my driver 195 yards with a weak fade, would’ve sat out a year and maybe never played again.”
Instead Campbell found a fun-loving mentor in coach Julie Garner, who strengthened Campbell’s grip and tweaked her setup. The minor changes resulted in an extra 35 yards off the tee and a slight draw.
In her sophomore season, Campbell experienced minor growing pains after gaining another 15 yards because of Fusser’s workouts. By spring, however, a toned Campbell had adapted to her newfound strength, winning four consecutive tournaments, including the Sunshine State Conference Championship, NCAA South Regional and a dramatic come-from-behind victory at the NCAA Championship. This past fall, Campbell recorded an ace en route to her second title at a Division I event, the Yale Invitational.
“She’s probably one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around,” said Garner. “She has a nose for the finish line.”
The simple silver band that rests on Campbell’s right ring finger is her most prized possession. The 2004 NCAA Championship ring was custom made without a stone to blend with her everyday attire. Her ultimate goal is to add two to her collection before embarking on a professional career.
“I don’t know when Division II will get credit for what they do,” said Campbell. “I just feel so lucky to have made the right decision.”