Golf News

Western Carolina women’s golf gets postseason shot after 4-win season

Madison Isaacson

Madison Isaacson will be roughly 2,000 miles from Cullowhee, North Carolina, by the time undergraduate commencement services begin at Western Carolina University on May 13. Isaacson, a fifth-year senior, earned a double major in sport management and business administration/law and a minor in marketing, but she won’t walk for her diploma. She has one last golf tournament to play.

When Western Carolina head coach Courtney Gunter found out the Catamounts had qualified for the inaugural Golfweek National Golf Invitational, a 54-hole postseason event similar to the National Invitational Tournament in college basketball, Isaacson was her first call. She wasn’t sure Isaacson would want to forfeit that rite of passage, but Isaacson hardly flinched.

“Graduation or playing in this first tournament in Arizona?” Isaacson said. “This is cooler, for me at least.”

Isaacson goes straight from the NGI at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Maricopa, Arizona, to a summer job in Pinehurst, North Carolina. From there, she’ll join the women’s golf coaching staff at Gardner-Webb University as a graduate assistant. Playing the inaugural NGI will go right into her coaching toolkit as something she could perhaps use to help motivate her future players.

“This is something they can reach for,” she said.

The NGI bid came a little unexpectedly for Western Carolina players, who thought they were too low in the rankings (No. 111 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings) to qualify. But as soon as Gunter learned her team was in, she started calling down her roster. If you’re over it, she said, the season can end now.

“Every single one of them was like, ‘No, coach, let’s do it. That’s what we were working for, we want to go, we’re not done yet,’” Gunter remembered.

Gunter thinks she probably first found out about the National Golf Invitational on Twitter, and it was always in the back of her mind after that.

Western Carolina’s Madison Isaacson. (Photo: Charlie Bulla)

Western Carolina started the fall with a goal to be in the top 3 in the season-long Southern Conference rankings. Then the Catamounts won their first three tournaments of the fall season, and suddenly goals shifted – especially the one at the top of the page.

“After our fall, with it being so good and us having a decent ranking, our vision now is to make it to postseason, which was really cool for us to do that,” Gunter said.

After Western Carolina’s first two team wins, they were ranked inside…


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