BY JESSALYN KIRCHHOFF
PHOTOS COURTESY FHSU ATHLETICS
The Fort Hays State Women’s Golf Team is off to a great start this spring season. The team has had high individual placers in each of the four meets that they have participated in this spring. One of these standout placers has been Morgan Brasser – who has finished in the top ten in three of four meets this year and in the top 20 in all four.
FHSU Women’s Golf Coach Jerol DeBoer talks of Brasser’s improvements and praises her for her recent successes.
“Morgan Brasser has been a standout for us this spring. She struggled some last fall but is back to showing everybody in our conference the talent that she has,” DeBoer said. “So far this spring, she has a sixth, a fourth, and a first-place finish at our last event. [Through three meets] she currently has the lowest average in our conference for the spring at 74.25. She was the first freshman for FHSU to qualify for regionals last year and is well on her way to qualifying again this year.”
Brasser, MIAA Women’s Golf Athlete of the Week (March 30) and individual champion of the MWSU Holiday Inn Express, is also thoroughly impressed with how the spring season is progressing.
“Our spring season is off to a much better start than our fall season was. Many of us needed some time off to regroup our mental standpoint, including myself, and I think that has led us to a lot of success this spring,” Brasser said. “As an individual, my game is better than I have ever seen it and I am going to continue all of the hard work that I have done to get to where I am.”
Brasser said her individual title at the MWSU Holiday Inn Express was the greatest achievement of the year and that it meant a lot for her to take home a first-place finish.
“Winning a collegiate tournament has always been a dream and goal of mine ever since I started playing the game and I can’t begin to express how amazing it is to finally achieve this goal,” she said. “Obtaining it was only possible because of hard work, dedication, and patience within the game.”
In order to achieve her new champion status, Brasser indicates how much mental preparation went into the win.
“It is very important to allow your mind to completely focus before a tournament. I have found that without focus, it is very difficult to physically perform at my highest capacity,” Brasser said. “Also with golf, every course is unique and has a different layout. It is important to look at the course in advance and practice various shots that you will be using during the round.”
On top of the undeterred focus facet of the sport, Brasser expresses how much pressure one athlete must take on per tournament in order to be successful.
“This sport comes with a tremendous amount of pressure, especially at the collegiate level. Being able to handle the pressure and perform through it is something that takes a lot of time and practice to overcome,” she said. “It is a very individual sport and requires your undivided attention and focus for 5-6 hours at a time, which is very different from any other sporting event.”
She then touches lightly on what she’s working towards next, including making it to the postseason and qualifying for regionals and nationals.
“This will not be an easy task, so it will require me to really focus hard on my game over the last month of the season,” Brasser said.
As for the team-oriented goals, DeBoer wants to see the team hit under a specific score and to play a cohesive all-around game.
“We are shooting for a team score of 320, which is a combination of four of the five players’ scores,” he said. “We are continuing to work on consistency and staying focused the entire 18 holes.”
At this time, DeBoer zeros in on what is holding the team back, saying the biggest obstacle is consistency.
“They play several holes well but always seem to make a few big numbers which ruins their total score for the 18 holes. A lot of this has to do with not staying focused and not playing the recovery shots well when hitting a bad shot.” he said “This leads to big numbers which you cannot have if you expect to shoot low scores.”
DeBoer goes on to point out the improvements that need to be made.
“They must get better mentally prepared and work on staying focused the entire 18 holes. They also continue to work on their short games so that when they do get in trouble, they can recover and not make more than a bogey.”
Backtracking to Brasser, her individual hiccup has come from assembling all aspects of the game into one collective unit.
“My biggest obstacle this season regarding my performance has been putting all of the aspects of golf together, meaning driving accuracy, iron play, wedge play, putting, and also the mental aspect of the game,” she said. “The mental side of golf is something that I believe gets neglected by most amateur golfers, so I am working every single day to make sure that my mental standpoint is just as strong as my physical standpoint in the game.”
Brasser then speaks briefly about what advancements she is seeking to make.
“My game is at a level that I have never seen before. However, like with any sport, there is always room for improvement,” she said. “Statistically speaking, my fairways and greens hit percentages have exceeded mine and my coach’s expectations. Short game would probably be where I could gain a few strokes per round if I clean it up just a bit.”
In closing, Brasser rounds out just how different golf is from other sports and what she has learned about it throughout the years.
“Although we play together as a team, golf is such a mental and individualized sport, making it different than most others. Our tournaments look a lot different than any other sport. A typical tournament round takes about 5-6 hours and is usually 2-3 days long, demanding absolute focus for long amounts of time,” Brasser said. “Growing up learning the game, I was taught that golf was always just you versus the course, and not you versus anybody else. I still think about this today and I believe that a lot of my success has come from this different kind of outlook.”
Peering into the far future of the program, DeBoer is looking to expand the program and commemorates his current players for their hard work on the course as well as in their courses.
“We currently have seven members on our team. I am continuing to work on recruiting top players from the region to build the program. We are becoming more competitive and hope to work towards becoming one of the top teams in the conference in the years to come,” he said. “Six of the seven team members also were listed on the academic honor roll last fall. I have been blessed to get to coach them and to be around these very special individuals who excel both in the classroom and on the golf course.”
Next up for the team is the MIAA Championships on April 21-23. The championships will be hosted at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton.