MU women's golf team balances academics, constant travel

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Travel on Saturday. Practice rounds on Sunday. 36 holes on Monday. Final round on Tuesday. Return to Columbia on Wednesday. Practice Thursday and Friday.

That's the typical schedule the MU women's golf team has during the weeks it has a tournament.

The team will play in its final tournament of the fall season Monday and Tuesday, ending an intensive cycle that began Sept. 14. The Tigers participated in five tournaments during the seven weeks, only one of which took place in Columbia.  

Each of the tournaments took place on a Monday and the following Tuesday — except Missouri’s most recent competition in Las Vegas, which started Monday and ended Wednesday. The constant traveling and missing of classes is an ongoing stress for the Tigers.

“This is hard,” coach Stephanie Priesmeyer said. “We look at it as it’s intense for September and October, and then we have a nice break. It (the heart of the schedule) usually happens at the busiest time for them academically, so it’s pretty stressful.”

Priesmeyer said the main reason why tournaments are not held over weekends is because of course availability. Because country clubs are usually closed on Mondays, courses are open for teams to play. This forces the athletes to miss at least 10 days of class over a seven-week period. To earn low scores on the golf course and high grades in the classroom, the student-athletes are constantly juggling their responsibilities.

“The professors at Mizzou are pretty good about supporting us and supporting them as long as they (the players) don’t take advantage of things,” Priesmeyer said. “It’s really up to them (the players) to communicate well with their professors and get their stuff turned in and make things up.”

Making things up includes e-mailing papers from the road, finishing and turning in missed assignments and, in junior Lindsey Haupt’s case, taking two exams after playing two rounds of golf.

Haupt said she was scheduled to have three tests on the Monday of MU’s only home tournament on Oct. 5. She had to take two of the three tests that night. She said she had little energy left after 36 holes of golf.

“You’re up from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (at the golf course), and then you have to go take two tests,” Haupt said. “I was exhausted at the end of it, and I didn’t do as well as I hoped on the tests.”

Haupt appeared frustrated when speaking about her schoolwork. Although she said teachers mostly are understanding, some can misunderstand the amount of time golf takes. She said her grades have suffered because of it.

Priesmeyer spoke of another instance where a golfer had a group project on the Monday of a tournament and was unable to compete that day. The coach understands that sometimes it is not possible to work out both sides.

Senior Julia Potter considers herself lucky when it comes to the way professors have worked with her in the past. She said part of the responsibility falls on the players.

“My first day I go and talk to each one of the professors and look at the syllabus and have the schedule we’re going to be playing that semester,” Potter said. “They (professors) really appreciate that. They know you’re not trying to get away with anything.”

Potter has never had a major conflict with golf and school and said she feels it is a privilege to have the opportunity to travel. The recent tournament in Las Vegas was Potter’s seventh trip to Sin City. Even though it can be difficult to balance travel and grades, Potter is happy having most of the competitions on the road.

“I love the traveling,” Potter said. “It’s easier for me to get in the mindset away from home. You don’t have those distractions.”

Priesmeyer said she agrees; although traveling can be exhausting, she doesn’t see it as a big problem.

“I don’t see anything as a disadvantage other than just being gone and traveling a lot,” Priesmeyer said. “It’s kind of all we really know.”

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