Ball State's Hague tunes in details at Red Sky

Ball State's Jenna Hague managed slick greens and cold temperature during the first round at the Golfweek Women's Conference Challenge.

Ball State's Jenna Hague managed slick greens and cold temperature during the first round at the Golfweek Women's Conference Challenge.

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Alison LeeUCLA  69.59 
2Annie ParkUSC  69.73 
3Yu LiuDuke  69.81 
4Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.00 
5Gaby LopezArkansas  70.01 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Southern California 70.32 
2UCLA 70.60 
3Duke 70.79 
4Stanford 71.49  10 
5Arkansas 71.52 

WOLCOTT, Colo. – Jenna Hague will tell you that she’s not a particularly analytical player. Teammates, of course, can’t help but disagree, and that’s understandable. Hague is a player who describes her ideal shot as “a 3-yard draw.”

But that’s when Hague, standing near the practice putting green at Red Sky Golf Club on a cool September evening in the Rockies, referenced her yardage book. The margins, she insists, are clean.

“I don’t take notes on the golf course that much,” said Hague, a finance major in her junior season at Ball State.

Hague shot an even-par 72 in the first round of the Golfweek Women’s Conference Challenge and was one of only seven players to finish the day at par or better. She owned a share of fourth at day’s end, behind three Pepperdine players – Marissa Chow, Grace Na and Alina Ching – at 1-under 71.

In seven competitive rounds so far this season, Hague is 1 over. Her even-par score Monday included two bogeys and two birdies.

“Basically, she shoots 72 every day,” Ball State head coach Katherine Mowat said.

Hague’s style of play is geared heavily toward strategy. Mowat describes the darts Hague throws into greens to attack a pin, but the risks she takes don’t result in big numbers. Despite never having been to the Rocky Mountains – or, for that matter, Colorado – Hague found that her game fits Red Sky perfectly. It takes a sharp mind.

“She’s playing very, very smart golf,” Mowat said.

Hague says the strength of her game always has been in approach shots. It’s been nearly a year since she underwent a massive swing change that has created a controlled cut. That swing change is courtesy of Jon Hoover, a golf professional in Woodwind, Ind.

Learning the game in Burlington, Ontario, Hague worked with Dave Banks. She didn’t take up golf until she was 14, and instead played hockey as a kid.

Banks is the same swing coach with whom Mowat worked while growing up in Burlington. The town, near Toronto, has nearly doubled in size from 1997, when Mowat graduated from high school. That initial connection to Mowat helped Hague find Ball State, but the decision to attend the school in Muncie, Ind., has paid off many times over, as far as Hague is concerned.

Hague is the kind of player who could help pull Ball State, which finished last season ranked No. 144 by Golfweek, into the top 100. Hague's fifth career victory came at the Redbird Invitational at the start of this season, and she owns the most victories in program history. As Hague consistently leads the team, the rest of the order still is working itself out. Hague’s analysis? The pieces for success are there.

“I’m a strong believer in you feed off the people around you,” she said. “You keep working hard and people are going to follow.”

None of Hague’s teammates, two of whom also hail from Ontario, had seen Colorado before this week, either. Hague guesses she has played at no more than 4,000 feet, and that was in western Canada. Red Sky Golf Club’s Fazio Course reaches nearly twice that altitude.

On Monday, Hague was a dot of Ball State red in the midst of much Pepperdine orange at the top of the leaderboard. Red Sky, with its elevation changes and slick greens, provided a great test for her.

All you need to know about this player’s attitude was in her assessment of those variables.

“It’s super fair.”

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