Aggie women’s golf all about togetherness, winning culture -

Aggie women’s golf all about togetherness, winning culture

By Dave Burge

Sustained excellence is a great way to describe the New Mexico State University women’s golf team.

The Aggies recently won their seventh Western Athletic Conference team championship in the past eight years at the conference golf championships at the Riverhill Golf Course in Kerrville, Texas April 18-20.

It was also the 17th conference championship in program history.

“First, it’s the players,” said head coach Danny Bowen, who has guided the program for the past five years and was an assistant coach with the Aggies for five years before that.

“We have been lucky enough to recruit great people and great athletes to come in and play for us,” Bowen said. “Second is our weather that we can provide these girls to play in.

“We just have a championship culture we have had since I’ve been here – all 10 years,” Bowen continued. “It seems like the girls have been able to pass that along to each other as new freshmen come in and our seniors graduate.”

Up next: The Aggies will travel to Albuquerque and play in an NCAA regional tournament at The Championship Course at UNM May 9-11.

The top four schools and top two individual golfers not on a qualifying team earn the right to advance on to the NCAA championships.

The Aggies are the 12th and lowest seed at their regional but have the advantage of having played on that course twice in the past calendar year.

“The entire team has been able to see it in competition which will be huge for us,” Bowen said.

The NM State women have made it to the NCAA tournament nine times but the last time the Aggies qualified was in 2001.

Junior Amelia McKee led the Aggies with a second-place showing at the WAC championships, while sophomore Alison Gastelum was fifth. Both were named to the All-WAC team.

McKee, who is from Spring, Texas, credits the program’s success to Bowen.

“Having a coach that can be your friend but is also your coach is a really big factor in how you perform,” McKee said. “If you are afraid of your coach or afraid of disappointing him, that they won’t like you as much if you don’t play well, you can’t play to the best of your ability. We don’t have that problem with Danny.”

McKee said she likes being the underdog and is looking forward to the regional tournament.

Gastelum, who is from Ciudad Chihuahua, Mexico, said one of the keys to the program’s success is that the women golfers genuinely like each other and are almost like a group of sisters.

“That helps us mentally and physically to encourage each other to play better, keep practicing and come in every day and give our best,” Gastelum said.

Gastelum said that playing in Albuquerque in the regional “feels like we are playing at home.”

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