California Baptist University’s women’s golf team found success in its season, winning second overall at the Grand Canyon University Invitational March 1-2 and third overall at the Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational March 11-12 hosted by Southern Utah University.
Haruka Shintani, junior kinesiology major, finished the GCU Invitational 2-under-par 214 to place second out of 82 golfers winning the CBU Clutch Award.
“I didn’t know the ranking until my teammate told me my ranking, so I was able to play happily without being too nervous,” Shintani said. “I’m also happy to have my teammates say ‘good play’ because golf is an individual sport and a team sport at the same time—we rival against each other for an individual field.”
The CBU Clutch Award was created by head coach Marc Machado to encourage his team to finish strong at tournaments. The award is based on the lowest cumulative total for the last four holes of the tournament.
“The reason for that is that it’s not how you start, it is how you finish,” Machado said. “And so, everything that we do, whether it’s the last rep in weights, the last drill we’re doing in workouts or the last bit of golf, we want to do it with the utmost energy, respect, everything that we can muster, and just really finish it off well to represent CBU.”
To unite his team, Machado picks a tournament theme word. He sometimes finds inspiration in a book he is reading or a YouTube video he watched. Machado announces it at the team’s practice tournament and talks through what the word means for the team. The theme word for the GCU Invitational was toughness. Knowing that the team would face obstacles in the tournament, he encouraged his team to show toughness on the green.
“We always try to pick the one word that we can be united on and focused on throughout the tournament,” Machado said. “We’re not like a basketball team, where I can see all five of them at once. They’re all on five different holes. And so being able to just drop by and say, ‘Hey, tough, be tough,’ it should speak a lot more than just the word itself. Every player knows what that encompasses. We talk about that throughout the tournament. Coming up with it, I access where we’re at with the team, like what we need and seeing the golf course.”
Unlike other sports teams, not every member of the golf team goes to every tournament. The process for selecting the five golfers for the tournaments is a brutal process. Machado creates a practice tournament and the top three golfers in the practice tournament go on to the official tournament, with Machado choosing the final two golfers.
“Golf is kind of brutal—it’s either you make it and you get to experience this or you don’t and you stay home. Being a deep team this year has made my life very difficult, but in a good way,” Machado said. “It’s tough. You’ve got to have girls that are selfless. We constantly preach our team motto is the team is ‘greater than I’.”
Anabella Gurrola sophomore business finance major said she believes that her team is in for more wins this season and that the team dynamic remains strong despite the competitive aspects.
“We are giving it our all. We are having fun while also staying competitive. And if we fail, we will get the next one,” Gurrola said.
Golf heads to Northern Arizona March 20-21 to compete in the Red Rocks Invitational.