Yale Athletics

After the graduation of former Ivy League Player of the Year Jennifer Peng ’18, many observers may be expecting the women’s golf team to have a down year. But that won’t be the case, according to captain Julie Luo ’19, as the team gears up for the short fall season ahead, followed by a longer one in the spring.

The Bulldogs graduated two golfers from the group that placed sixth at Ivy League Championships last spring: Peng and Jayshree Sarathy ’18. This season, the Elis return with only three upper-level students: Luo, Felicia Chang ’20 and Beryl Wang ’20. The Bulldogs roster is filled out by two sophomores and three first years.

“We definitely didn’t play as well as we could have last fall,” Luo said. “But [we] kept improving and working really hard in the offseason, which brought us momentum in the spring (which is our main season). We are mainly trying to keep the momentum going throughout this fall, and I’m really excited to get going.”

After starting last fall with a first-place finish at the Bucknell Invitational, the team struggled through parts of the short season, including a 10th- and a seventh-place finish at the Princeton and Yale Invitationals, respectively.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, momentum began to pick up in the spring, as the team won a tournament at Navy and finished sixth at the Ivy League Championship. This time around, the Bulldogs hope to use the fall season as a springboard into an even stronger spring and Ivy Championship season.

“Collectively we’re all focused on performing well,” the captain said. “But more importantly [we’re focused on] learning with every good and bad shot. Our season is pretty short, so we don’t have much time to learn from our mistakes and practice before we have to move on to the next tournament.”

Along with team captain Luo, Chawwadee Rompothong ’00 returns to coach her 14th season, claiming Ivy League Championship victories in 2006 and 2011.

This year, the Bulldogs are welcoming three first years, Ami Gianchandani ’22, Dana Branstetter ’22 and Coco Chai ’22, who join sophomores Lucy Liu ’21 and Gabbie DeSombre ’21.

“[As a first year], my role is just to play the best that I can play to help my team,” Gianchandani said. “Our goals as a team are to win the Yale Invitational as well as to win any other tournaments we can. … My goal individually is also to [place first at a] tournament and have an average score around par.”

The team begins a four-tournament stretch this weekend, when it tees off the season at the Dartmouth Invitational. From there, Yale will head to Penn State and Princeton in subsequent weekends before returning home for the Yale Invitational.

The Yale Invitational in October — the only home tournament that the squad hosts all season — will run from Oct. 5 to 7 at the Yale Golf Course. Gianchandani said she is excited about the Yale Invitational because it draws many Ivy League teams to New Haven as well as a home crowd.

While the team certainly has high hopes for the upcoming season, such as winning the Yale Invitational, the captain has broader aims than just winning.

“Individually, my goal is to not leave anything out there — I want to make this a great last year,” Luo said. “I also want to prioritize enjoying the experience. Every practice, every tournament, the good shots and the bad shots.”

The team begins its fall campaign this Saturday at Dartmouth in a two-day, three-round tournament.

Emmett Shell | emmett.shell@yale.edu