For SCAD, a top NAIA women’s team, fall ends with a rare Division I title

For SCAD, a top NAIA women’s team, fall ends with a rare Division I title

College

For SCAD, a top NAIA women’s team, fall ends with a rare Division I title

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The motivation to get better in the offseason has maybe never been higher among players on Savannah College of Art and Design’s women’s golf team. The Bees’ timing in scoring a Division I tournament win despite being an NAIA team couldn’t have been better.

In winning the Wofford-hosted Terrier Intercollegiate on Oct. 29 by seven shots, SCAD put its first Division I title into its record books. It was a triumphant end to the fall portion of the season, not to mention an inspiring one. Such breakthroughs usually don’t come out of the blue in college golf. Three weeks before the Terrier, SCAD had finished third at the Stetson-hosted Hatter Classic, which was better than three of the Division I teams in the field.

“They saw how well they played at Stetson a few weeks ago,” said head coach Amanda Workman. “We’re close, maybe we could do this.”

SCAD is No. 2 in Golfstat’s ranking of NAIA schools.

With strong play comes opportunities – in the form of Division I invites.

“It’s not unusual for us to play an event like that and we have at least one on our schedule every year,” Workman said of playing up. SCAD will do it three times this season.

Workman’s 18-year coaching rein encompasses the entire history of SCAD’s women’s program. The Bees won their first NAIA Women’s Championship title in 2018, finished third at the national championship last spring and also picked up the Women’s Golf Coaches Association honor for highest GPA among NAIA women’s golf programs. That means something different at SCAD.

The Bees are atypical student athletes, given the nature of their majors and coursework. This season, the group includes players majoring in architecture, fashion marketing and management, fashion design, interior design and film.

“Cracking the books” is not really a thing for SCAD players when on the road for tournaments. Some can bring along computers and portfolios, but others have to get more creative. Workman once saw a player completing a life-size portrait during a team trip. One year at the national championship, another player’s family carted a sewing machine from their home in Kansas to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the tournament was being played.

“When she wasn’t playing, she was sewing,” Workman said.

It’s a delicate balance, but Workman has learned the dance and takes it into account when scheduling tournaments.

In committing to the Terrier, Workman had other, bigger things in mind. She liked the opportunity to play Spartanburg Country Club in Spartanburg, South Carolina, because of the rolling layout and challenging greens. She saw similarities to this spring’s NAIA Championship venue, Lincoln Park Golf Course in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Three players from SCAD’s 2018 NAIA title team remain on the roster.

“They’ve felt what it’s like to win,” Workman said. “I think that’s the goal for any team, going into the second half of the year and your spring, get to that national championship. That would be our overall goal. It’s those little steps throughout the year. We find out what we need to work on.”

SCAD took a nine-shot cushion into the final round of the Terrier. The other two teams in that top pairing faded away as the day wore on, but the three teams that ultimately finished behind SCAD – Samford, USC Upstate and Eastern Kentucky – all made a final-round run. It was an odd feeling, Workman noted, as SCAD played the closing holes while their chasers were across the course on Nos. 1-4.

SCAD’s closing round of 18-over 306 was its highest of the week and left the Bees at 39 over, seven shots better than Samford. When you play your best, Workman has told this team, you are very competitive.

“Now, you can see it,” went the end of that post-game van speech.

Workman planted herself at the par-5 18th all week in Spartanburg. Several of her players attempted to reach the hole on their second shot during the practice round, but no one went for it during competition. Par-5 scoring is something Workman would like to see improve in the spring.

“I think our course management is good, I think it can always get better,” she said. “I don’t think I have girls who are fearful, I have girls who are smart. We play to our strengths.”

As it turns out, those stack up nicely across all divisions.

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