LAKE ELMO, MINN. — Dan Brooks has been the head women’s golf coach at Duke for the last 36 years.
In that time, Brooks has led the Blue Devils to seven national titles – most recently last May at Arkansas’ Blessings Golf Club – and 136 team victories, the most in NCAA Division I women’s golf history.
But the 2019-20 season marks a career first for the longtime coach. According to the school, highly-touted freshman Erica Shepherd is Brooks’ first left-handed player.
Shepherd made her college golf debut on Monday morning at the 2019 ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M at Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. She was the first player off for the defending national champions, who return four of their starting five, and she made birdie on her first hole.
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“I thought it was great and texted her Mom,” Matt Shepherd said of his daughter’s first collegiate birdie. The parents are on split duties this week with Erica’s brother Ethan, a junior on the Indiana men’s golf team, competing at the Windon Memorial at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Shepherd was destined to be a Blue Devil at a young age. Her middle name is Leigh, named after close family friend Leigh Anne Creavy (née Hardin), a former Duke star who amassed four collegiate victories and was a member of the 2002 national championship team (Brooks’ second national title at Duke).
Hardin won the 1998 U.S. Girls’ Junior. Shepherd, who had a Duke cheerleader outfit at six years old, won 19 years late in 2017.
“She’s very fortunate to go to such a great institution and play for a Hall of Fame coach,” her father added. “It’s a great opportunity from an education standpoint and golf standpoint.”