MONTGOMERY – Monday morning the Sam Houston State women’s golf team will look to cap what has been a record-breaking season when the Southland Conference championships begins the first of three rounds.
The Bearkats are having the best season in program history, notching five tournament victories, but head coach Brandt Kieschnick said this is a process that start long before the season got underway in October.
“This really started about three years ago with a vision between myself, Bobby Williams and Chris Thompson, getting (assistant coach) Tommy (Chain) more of a full-time role with recruiting,” Kieschnick said. “I think you are starting to see that process starting to all come together. You have to have two guys recruiting and have that approach to the process.”
Chain, who handles a bulk of the day-to-day coaching and traveling with the women’s team is now in his 11th season working with the golf program. His increased efforts on the recruiting front helped bring in one of the top junior college golfers in the country in Gianti Mahardhika and freshmen Hannah Alberto and Kari Bush.
“He is one of the hardest working guys that I have ever seen with a smile,” Kieschnick said about Chain. “He wants to keep learning and has gotten better every year, from his coaching style to what to say and when to say it and how to manage a team.”
Chain and Kieschnick have guided a team that will enter as one of the favorites at this week’s conference championships at Woodforest Golf Club. The Kats won three straight tournaments this spring with Heather Shake taking two individual titles this spring and Mahardhika claiming one.
“We get better each round, and our best rounds have been in that final round,” Kieschnick said. “I was most proud in our last victory when we had a 12-shot lead and we told them to go out and win the day. They then shot the best score of the day. That’s when I knew our mindset was where it needed to be. This is a special group of girls.”
While Shake (75.52 season average) and Mahardhika (75.48) have taken the individual titles, Alberto has been the most consistent golfer on the team. The freshman from Kingwood leads the Kats in scoring average at 74.86 and has a second-place finish to her credit this season.
Sophomore Jenna Phillips (76.54) also has a top-five finish this year and freshman Kari Bush (79.14) has a season-best finish of ninth.
“We have really ramped up the way we have practiced from drills to mindset, to course management and ball control,” Kieschnick said. “When you work on those things every day it has led to low scores and winning.
“I think each week we are getting better. The approach to each tournament has been the same, but the results are getting better with the way they approach each round.. They go out to just win the day,” he said.
Action starts at 8 a.m. Monday morning with the final round of the 54-hole tournament Wednesday. The winner of the tournament will earn the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.