Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor

Last Thursday, Bulldog golfers Ami Gianchandani ’23 and Kaitlyn Lee ’23 qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship after placing second in the New Jersey qualifier event.

The tournament was a single round of stroke play four-ball played in Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, NJ. In the stroke play variant of four-ball, the name that describes this type of golf format, each of the two team members plays their own ball, and at the end of each hole, the lowest score is added to the team’s aggregate score. 

In regulation, Gianchandani and Lee were in a three-way tie for first place. All three teams were competing for the same two qualifying spots awarded by the New Jersey State Golf Association. But the tie for first place was broken in the first playoff hole by the Yale golfers to secure their spot in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball championship that will take place at the Maridoe Golf Club in Texas.

“Qualifying for the four-ball championship has always been a goal of mine,” Gianchandani said. “I am psyched to have finally achieved it. I am excited to be playing with one of my Yale teammates, Kaitlyn Lee, and know that this will be a very competitive tournament for us to play in together. Being on a team in golf is always special. In this case, it is even more so because it is an opportunity to play with my teammate and friend even when our season is in question.”

This wasn’t the first tournament that Gianchandani played in after the spring golf season was cancelled. The New Jersey native played in her state’s women’s amateur, the Met Open and — for the second time in her young collegiate career — the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Gianchandani said that she did not perform as well as she might have liked to in these tournaments but was glad to be back playing competitive golf. Gianchandani has high hopes for tournaments she will be participating in later this year.

Apart from preparing for these tournaments, Gianchandani is taking a year off from her studies to intern as a software engineer for Swoop Search. But this does not mean that Gianchadani will be cut off from her life as a student-athlete — the junior golfer was recently selected to be the Ivy League Representative for Yale’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Meanwhile, her four-ball partner, Lee, is currently taking classes from her home in New York.

Lee has not yet decided whether she is coming back to campus in January.

“I think it depends on what they announce regarding a spring season,” Lee said. “If restrictions are lightened and practice and lift are somewhat back to normal, then I think I will. It’s also hard though because a bunch of my teammates and friends are taking gaps so it won’t be the same … So I think I am most likely pursuing a pre-med track and hopefully going to med school afterwards which in itself is a lot of additional years. So as much as I’m gonna miss not playing an extra year with this team I think down the line this was the right decision to make.”

Currently, none of the members of the Yale women’s golf team are on campus, including future first year Daphne Chao ’25, who deferred her enrollment for a year. But to keep team chemistry high, head coach Lauren Harling has been organizing a wide array of activities via Zoom. One of these activities has been reading Robyn Benincasa’s book “How Winning Works” and discussing chapters in weekly meetings.

“As coaches, our job is to be adaptable,” Harling said. “We all coach young people with a myriad of personalities and from diverse cultures. While this period of time has certainly presented its challenges, I am putting one foot in front of the other, choosing to focus on the positives and providing my student-athletes with as many helpful resources as possible. Yale and Yale Athletics has done a tremendous job of putting together amazing programs that support our students in a number of ways.”

The 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship will take place from April 24-28.

Eugenio Garza García | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu