Shelby Hardy is a young woman who likes to set goals for herself.
During her remarkable golf career both in high school and at the NCAA Division I level, the Sam Houston State University senior has done an outstanding job of achieving those goals.
Hardy put an exclamation point on her four-year Bearkat career at the Southland Conference Championship in Frisco this week and now stands as the most successful Sam Houston women’s golfer ever to step up on a tee box.
The San Saba product holds the Sam Houston records for most tournament individual medalist championships (five), lowest career stroke average (75.91), lowest 54-hole tournament score (215), lowest tournament total at the Southland championships (215) and has produced three of the five lowest season stroke averages in school history.
At the Southland tournament in Frisco April 15-17, Hardy not only won the conference individual medalist title but did it in record fashion. Her 54-hole total of 212 was the lowest recorded in league women's golf history and the lowest round ever produced by a Bearkat.
“In junior high school, I set two goals for myself – to go to state and to play Division I golf,” Hardy recalls.
Accomplishing her goals wasn’t easy. Hardy had to overcome adversity at times along the way.
“My sophomore year in high school, I played basketball and tore my ACL,” Hardy said. “I really had to work hard to rehab and get back for golf season. I ended up finishing as runner-up at state playing in a knee brace.”
Hardy went on to win the Texas Class AA state title in 2008 and was a three-time district champion.
“I started playing golf when I was six. My dad was the greenskeeper at a golf course and we were always out there,” Hardy said. “I think I’ve always had a golf club in my hand. I played my first tournament at age seven.”
With her home town of San Saba located closer to Abilene than Huntsville, Hardy did not know a lot about Sam Houston State University when women’s golf coach Tommy Chain called her about becoming a Bearkat.
“Coach Chain invited us to visit the campus and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the people here,” Hardy said. “It’s been a great experience. The coaching staff has really helped me grow as a player, especially with the mental aspect of the game. I’ve learned to stay calm and patient.”
Hardy and Raman Saran are the only two Bearkats to be voted as team “Most Valuable Player” three years in a row. Saran previously held the record for most tournament individual titles that Hardy broke this fall with medalist victories at the Oral Roberts Intercollegiate in Tulsa and the Alabama-Birmingham tournament in Pensacola.
Hardy won the Houston Baptist Invitational individual crown in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 and a title at the Butler Intercollegiate in 2011-12.
An all-Southland Conference performer each of the past three years (second team selection as a freshman and first team in both 2011 and 2012), Hardy is a strong candidate to become the second Bearkat to earn first or second team all-league honors four years in a row.
The all-conference team will be announced following the Southland championship in Frisco. Hardy owns a 75.50 stroke average this season with seven top 10 finishes in 10 events.
The two things Hardy has enjoyed most about golf at Sam Houston have been her teammates and the travel.
“Before I came to Sam Houston, I already knew most of the girls on the team through junior golf,” Hardy said. “We’re very close and enjoy being around each. I really like the trips. My freshman year we went to Hawaii and I had never been on a plane before that. We’ve been to Florida twice this year. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Hardy also is an outstanding student. She has earned her Bachelor’s degree in three years and is now working on her Master’s.
“I want to give pro golf a shot,” Hardy said. “With my degrees, I look forward to coaching and teaching in high school and possibly even at the university level.”