What will the Clemson women’s golf team do for an encore in the spring of 2024?
It will be a tall task to exceed or even duplicate the accomplishments of the 2022-23 Clemson team, the most successful in many areas in Clemson history.
Last year’s squad received national attention by winning the ACC Championship, the first in program history, during a year in which Wake Forest won the National Championship. The team then finished second at the NCAA Pullman Regional, the highest regional finish in school history. That performance qualified Clemson for the NCAA Championship for just the second time in school history.
In the spring, the Tigers finished in the top three in three consecutive tournaments for the first time in school history and posted five top four finishes over the season.
It was a banner year for coach Kelley Hester, who was named the ACC Coach of the Year, a first in Clemson women’s golf history.
The Tigers are off to a great start in the 2023-24 academic year as the team already has three top three finishes on its resume in just four fall events. That includes the co-championship at the 18-team Landfall Tradition in the final event of the fall. The Tigers shot 21-under par for the 54 holes to tie ACC foe Duke.
It was a bittersweet victory because it was also the final Clemson tournament for Savannah Grewal, the fifth-year senior who was Clemson’s top golfer in 2022-23 and holder of the team’s best stroke average in the fall of 2023.
The native of Canada finished 10th at the LPGA Q-Series and thus turned professional in December and will begin her professional this spring competing against the best women’s golfers in the world. She finished first, sixth and 10th at the three stages of qualifying to become the third former Clemson golfer, and first Clemson graduate, to qualify for the LPGA Tour.
Over her Clemson career, Grewal set or tied 32 Clemson records, including marks for the low season stroke average, a 71.77 figure she turned in last year. She finished 55th in the Golfweek rankings last year, and was 16th in the nation by Spikemark, the official rankings of the NCAA, when she turned professional this past December.
Grewal’s departure will be a big position to fill in Hester’s lineup, but there are still six veterans on the roster who have experience competing for the program in big tournaments.
Annabelle Pancake was second behind Grewal in stroke average last year and she is a veteran of 30 tournaments and 87 rounds entering the spring of 2024. Last year it was Pancake who had the most top 10 finishes with four, and she was the only Clemson golfer to win a tournament. The native of Indiana was co-medalst at the Clemson Invitational with a five-under par 211. She then finished fourth at the ACC tournament with a 209 score, the highest finish ever by a Clemson women’s golfer at the conference event.
This past summer Pancake received national attention when she was a finalist at the Women’s British Amateur at Portmarock, Ireland. She became the first American in five years to reach the finals and performance moved Pancake to #37 in the World Amateur rankings.
This past fall Pancake posted a 70.73 stroke average for four tournaments and 11 rounds. She was Clemson’s top golfer at the Landfall Tradition, where she finished second in the medalist race.
Chloe Holder is set for an outstanding second semester to her junior year. In the first semester she posted a 70.,55 stroke average, second on the team to Grewal’s 70.0, and she had a team best six rounds in the 60s. Holder had a pair of top 10s, a 10th place at the The Blessings and a seventh place at the Landfall Tradition. She shot a Clemson record tying 63 in the final round at The Landfall Tradition, a big reason Clemson was able to tie Duke for the team title.
Holder was third on the Clemson team in stroke average last year with a 72.88, a season that included a fifth-place finish at The Blessings. The transfer from Augusta University won the Mercedes Benz Collegiate her freshman year and had three top five finishes for the Jaguars.
Isabella Rawl is a sophomore on the Clemson team this year who was in the middle of some great moments her rookie year with the program The native of Lexington, SC won the decisive match over her opponent from the University of Virginia to clinch the ACC Championship for the Tigers. The win gave her a 2-0 record in the ACC Championship, joining Holder as the only Clemson golfer to win both her semifinal and final matches.
Last year Rawl was in the lineup for seven of Clemson’s 12 tournaments, including all three postseason events. She finished 14th at the Clemson Invitational and 24th at the ACC Championship. Her score counted in 16 of 20 rounds.
Katherine Schuster was in the starting lineup for five tournaments last year and for two of the four this past fall. The native of Outer Banks, NC had a 75.15 stroke average last year as a sophomore when she finished 23rd at the Moon Golf Championship. This past fall Schuster was much improve and had a 72.56 stroke average for nine rounds, fifth on the team, when her resume included an opening round 67 at the Cougar Classic.
Melena Barrientos is an experienced junior who figures to see a lot of playing time this spring. the native of Plano, Texas was fourth on the team in stroke average last year with a 73.19 average. She posted three top 10s, tied for second on the team. She finished the year strong with an 11th place at the ACC Championship and a 10th place at the Pullman Regional. Barrientos is a veteran of 21 tournaments and has 18 career under-par rounds. She led the team in stroke average as a freshman when she had three top 10 finishes.
Sydney Roberts is another veteran on this year’s team. As a freshman in 2022-23 she had a 74.64 stroke average for her 14 rounds. She had her best performance at the Clemson Invitational where she finished 27th thanks to an opening round 69. She started this past fall with a strong 12th place at The Blessings.
Ivy Schulze is a freshman from Anderson, SC who was an all-state performer at T.J. Hanna High School. She was the leader of the Hanna team that finished third in the state 5A Tournament. Schulze was named to the United States team that played in the Canada-America Matches.
Hester also has a new member on her staff. Katy Nahm comes to Clemson as Hester’s top assistant after spending 12 years at the University of Kansas. She was also an assistant coach at her alma mater, Coastal Carolina from 2007-09. As a player at Coastal Carolina Nahm was a three-time All-Big South selection and the conference freshman of the year.
Clemson begins its spring schedule on the West Coast at the Therese Sessional Challenge at Palos Verdes Country Club in Palos Verdes, California, February 4-6. It will hopefully be the first of two trips to that part of the country as the NCAA Championships will be held at Omni Resort in Carlsbad, California.
Clemson is scheduled to play five regular season tournaments in the spring, including the Clemson Invitational at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, March 22-24. The ACC Championship will be held at Porter’s Neck in Wilmington, NC for the first time, April 18-21.