Nine days ago when 24 teams and 12 individuals learned they would be compete for a national championship, excitement and satisfaction described the mood.
On Thursday at Rich Harvest Farms, it was a brutal test of survival. Most were simply miserable.
Players came off the golf course with their cheeks red, clothes drenched and hands numb. Not the kind of weather everyone expected in May.
How to cope at the year’s biggest event?
“You have to know that it is going to be a tough day for everybody,” said Stanford senior Casey Danielson, a Midwesterner who has seen her share of foul weather.
When golfers head to the course they have to be prepared with plenty of clothes, hand-warmers, extra socks and stocking caps. If you brought it, bring it. Staying warm and dry is part of the equation that can lead to success. But there is more to it, much more.
The one thing you have to have can’t be put on. You can’t even see it.
“The main message is just mental toughness,” said Kent State coach Greg Robertson.
Anyone with a smart phone and a weather app knew what was in store, but that didn’t make it any easier to take.
“We knew how it is going to be,” said Michigan sophomore and Big Ten medalist Elodie Van Dievoet. “You just do your best and not complain. Try to have fun and do it for the team.”
Van Dievoet turned in one of the best rounds of the day with an even-par 72 on the 6,343-yard layout. She is tied with Purdue’s August Kim for the lead after 18 holes.
“The toughest teams mentally will come out on top,” Danielson said. “A lot of mental preparation is know it’s going to be a tough day, and that not everything is going to go your way. Especially on a tough, championship golf course.”
Making bogey or worse must be expected. Why? Because it’s inevitable.
“You have to be patient, stay calm and you have to have a short memory,” said Purdue coach Devon Brouse.
Ohio State tied Baylor for the best score in the morning wave at 23-over 311, and Buckeyes coach Therese Hession said this about her team: “They never said one complaint. Nothing. Just kept plowing along like nothing was going on.”
That’s the mental toughness that’s needed. When teams started play at 7:30 a.m., temperatures were barely 40 degrees, but felt like 36. By the afternoon, it had warmed up just a few degrees. Those teams had more time to think about what was coming, challenging their mental game even more.
On taxing day of wind, rain and cold, it can come down to heart, toughness and guts. Nothing about it was unfair; everyone played the same conditions. No reason to complain. No reason to worry about it. Simply figure out a way to get it done.