By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Earning first team All-American honors and scoring best among all NCAA Division II golfers gives Courtney Soekland confidence she can play the pro game.
But first, one of the Empire’s all-time greats will return to Cal State Monterey Bay as an assistant coach while she finishes a business degree and continues honing her shots this fall.
“I’m getting stronger. I can compete in the pros,” she said.
Soekland, out of Santa Rosa High, hit many milestones in college to position herself to play at the next level.
Highlights from her senior season included:
— First team All-American
— Lowest scoring average in NCAA Division II at 74.48 per round.
Soekland’s final college campaign was so successful largely due to an improved chipping game and playing consistently over each round and through every tournament.
“I was more focused and playing more for myself. I just kept stepping up my game to help my team,” she said.
One of Monterey Bay’s top scorers all four years, Soekland enjoyed the team play of college golf.
“I can look back later that I was part of taking that program to another level and making the team competitive,” she said.
The only setback during Soekland’s senior season was losing a playoff to close the final round of an NCAA Super Regional in Arizona.
Soekland as a result just missed reaching the national championships.
“It was just a rough day, and it came at the worst time,” she said. “I look at it as a learning experience. It wasn’t how I wanted to finish, but it told me a lot about my future.”
Over the summer Soekland is playing several amateur tournaments.
Coaching and working on her shot-making follows this fall.
“Coaching gives me a different perspective. I know as a player what I want from a coach,” she said.
Then she plans to train full time and play professional mini tours next spring and summer. Those include the Cactus circuit, in Arizona, and the Pepsi tour, in California.
A big difference in the pro game is players must be aggressive and mentally tough and not merely seek to survive over 18 holes, she said.
“It is a different level. So I’m going to have to step up my game,” Soekland said.
You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.