"We sent invitations out to the top teams that we felt could get her logistically. For example, the head golf coach at South Florida played at the school up north. So we knew she has a first-hand experience at Old Waverly. And she is ranked among the top-50 in the country. She wanted to come and play and we were thrilled to get her. The coach at Kentucky played at Tennessee and they played in the SEC Tournament in 2006 (at Old Waverly). She wanted to come and play. It is the same thing with the coach at Arkansas. She was a member of the Georgia team in 2006 who played in the SEC Tournament. The word is out about the course. And all of those teams are top-notch teams."
This type tournament starts your season off with a bang, doesn't it?
"It does. And this will become a premiere event in the nation because of the quality of the course and the field that we hope to assemble. I look forward to it becoming one of the top-10 competitions in the country."
When does it start?
"The actual practice rounds are on September 9th. The tournament is the 10th, 11th and 12th of September. Tee times will start anywhere from 8:30 am to 10 am. There are only 12 teams in the field. We wanted to keep it small. And there will never be more than 15 teams in it in the future. All the teams will stay on the property, so they will stay in condos, villas and cottages at Old Waverly."
What are some additional details about the tournament that relate to the fans?
"It is a free event and is our first-ever home event. And we have some sororities and fraternities that are coming to the event to support us. We also have the West Point Junior Auxiliary providing snacks and manning the snack tent. So, it's truly a community event. Also, Old Waverly will accept cash and credit cards if you want to eat lunch there. And if fans want to come for the entire event they can stay in West Point, which is less than five minutes from the golf course."
Obviously, this tournament has excellent teams in it. Why start out with such a tough field?
"I like to rise to the occasion versus earning your way up. I believe it is a gauge for us to improve our mental skills which are acquired over a collegiate experience. Plus, it's a home field advantage because we play there all the time. We are also building a strong program and the SEC is the best conference in the nation when it comes to women's golf. And I want the people who we recruit to maximize that home field advantage and to understand what it means to host and to win a tournament. Our goal is nothing short of winning."
This year's team is still very young, made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores. What are your thoughts about your team going into the season?
"It's like anything else, the building is the fun part. I am loving it. You get to watch these young ladies who have unbelievable promise then you try to get them and pump them full of confidence and patience. Then you watch them perform, grow and learn and they wind up being better than you expected. And having such a young team I know what the future holds."
What are your goals this season?
"Our goals are to do better in the SEC Championship and to make it to post-season as a team and not just have a player make it like Ally McDonald did last year. And I think that is very attainable for us."
You mentioned Ally. What are some other girls you expect good things from this season?
"Rica Tse, who is from New Zealand, is an incredibly talented young lady who really came on the second semester of her freshman year.
"We did a lot of data analysis and we showed these young girls that they were a shot or two each from being where we want to be. That is an unbelievable positive for us. We can show them, on average, that the number 1 player for each team in the SEC averages 73.77 while our number 1 player averages 74.3, which is less than a stroke. Number 2 was 74.5 while our number 2 player was 77. So, we aren't that far behind. I want our young players to know that it is attainable."
What are your thoughts about your three freshmen?
"Blaise Carabello, who came to us from the Jim McLean Golf School in Dallas, had hip surgery this summer so she is going to redshirt this year, which leaves us with two freshmen. Those two are Gabby Oubre and Logan Chaney. They both have an unbelievable opportunity to play in a lot of golf tournaments. We'll see who works hard enough and gets it done."
Your one veteran is Mary Langdon Gallagher, a junior. What are your thoughts about her?
"She has gotten unbelievable experience her first two years because she played in every single golf tournament. She can be as good as she wants to be. All she lacks is confidence on the golf course. She is an exceptional team leader, an exceptional communicator, a great recruiter for us. She is an all-around A+ for us. And when she has the confidence on the golf course she can flat get it done."
What is going on with your facilities upgrade?
"Our practice facility was completed last August. We have been on it for one year now. Phase-2 of the upgrade is the building. I know they are speaking to a couple of donors who are interested in making it a reality. I know Scott Stricklin, Bo Hemphill, Mike Richey and the other people in the Bulldog Club are working very hard to make sure it meets our big plan. But it really falls on our shoulders. The better we play the more notoriety we will get. And the more notoriety that you get the more that people want to help you get better."