Women’s golf sees improvement with new coach

By Sam Bauman

This season was one of transition for the women’s golf team.

More than26 years the Huskies were coached by Pam Tyska, but this season it was Kim Kester’s turn to take over. While the season ended with a disappointing eighth place finish out of nine in the MAC Championships, the team as a whole showed improvement, especially on the course.

“They’ve grown so much,” Kester said. “The girls have bought into what NIU golf is. They’ve pulled their weight on the course and in the classroom. They’ve had to work with a new coach, and they responded extremely well to it.”

One of the things Kester focuses on the most is the team’s short game. The focus on putting and chipping has helped many of the girls lower their stroke per round average. While Allie Parthie continued her success from last season with a 79.1 average, three of the team’s younger golfers showed significant improvement.

Junior Jenny Niemiec lowered her stroke per round average by more than one stroke, dropping her 82.6 down to an 81.3 this season. These numbers are actually fairly misleading of Niemiec’s play, especially her spring play. Niemiec has averaged a 79.72 throughout the spring, showing improvement from the 2011-2012 season.

Also improving was sophomore Casey LaBarbera. After the 2011-2012 season LaBarbera was averaging an 86.6 strokes per round average. After working on her game this season she dropped that average down to an 83.3.

Perhaps the most impressive improvement was that of sophomore Taylor Ellett. Last season Ellett had an 86.8 average, the highest among the returning starting players this season. Through hard work and coaching Ellett dropped almost five strokes off her average, averaging an 82.1 this season.

Kester has brought in a new perspective and a new view on golf at NIU. If the girls keep responding well to her, there is no reason to think the team won’t keep improving. Kester is already making plans on what to improve for next season.

“We’re looking to improve on everything. We see how close we are to being really good,” Kester said. “They know they can compete with everybody. We just have to pull it together for all three rounds.”