"We feel like we're one of the teams to beat now": The story of ULM's remarkable season

Words by
Rachel Pollock, ULM Head Coach
"We feel like we're one of the teams to beat now": The story of ULM's remarkable season

“When I took over the program we were ranked 160. By the end of last year, we had jumped to 141. Now we've jumped an additional 70. It's been quite the climb in that sense.” ULM Head Coach Rachel Pollock shares the inside story of the Warhawks’ banner season. 

“When I was the assistant at Arkansas State, I read an article from Mary Lou Mulflur, the legendary women’s golf coach at the University of Washington. She attributed their success that year to really knowing her players. I feel like I really know my players both on the golf course and as people. We meet with each other at least every other week, one on one, and chat about what's going on in school, what's going on with their golf, and anything else in life they need to chat about.

We have an amazing relationship and we have trust in each other. I trust them that they are making all the right decisions and that they're giving 100% every time they step on the tee. And they trust me in terms of coaching decisions and in terms of planning practices. It's really a collaborative effort. I've got a really educated group of girls, we ask a ton of their feedback and I listen. 

Coach Pollock and the ULM team after winning the GCU Invitational

We talk so much about what is good and about continuing to improve our strengths. Confidence comes from a look at all the things that you're doing really well. Whenever we do post-round reports, it's three good things and one thing to improve. We always try to keep the positive heavily outweighing the things that need improving. 

We talk a lot about the process. We meet every Monday as a team and we meet after every event and break it down. We have post-round books and on the first page it says 'Be a part of the process'. That's what we emphasise to the team. 

"With Clippd, we’re able to practice as a team, but we're also able to tailor everything to each individual"

We reflect on every tournament round and every event. I ask the girls, ‘What's our main takeaway? What did we do really well and what can we do better moving forward?’ It's just a really quick snapshot of a good, better and a how.

I look at Clippd every single day before I plan practice. We're able to practise as a team, but we're also able to tailor everything to each individual, which is something that Clippd does really well. Whenever you're working on your own personal strengths and weaknesses, you can get better a lot faster. We've really noticed that as a team. 

Having access to all of the data in Clippd and it being so easy means that the girls can take ownership of in terms of practising on their own. They can just click on the What To Work On in Clippd, and it essentially throws the practice together, which is awesome. You don't have to guess, it just tells you. 

Fall season

Oct 10-11, 2022

Lady Red Wolves Classic, Arkansas

Team: 3rd, +1. Individual: T4, Anna Andrysova

GolfStat Ranking: 123

We broke the 36-hole record in South Alabama in the first tournament of the fall season when we were five under as a team. In Arkansas, we were 17 under after day one, so we didn’t just break the program record, we shattered it! We had never shot that low before. But being so far under par, they panicked. The girls felt a different kind of pressure, one they hadn't felt before. We had such a big lead and we blew it. But we learned so much from that experience.

The players bettered their own 36-hole scoring record by 12 shots

Oct 31-Nov 1, 2022

The Judson, Mississippi

Team: 1st, +6. Individual: T2, Anna Andrysova and Alessia Mengoni

GolfStat Ranking: 107

We’d had a second place finish, a third place and a second place in the three tournaments, so to be able to come from behind and pull off a really great final round [281] to get a win in the fall was really nice. 

Winning meant the players had checked off the three big golf goals they set at the beginning of the season. They broke the single season scoring average and broke the 54-hole tournament record three times. To win a tournament meant they were done by the end of the fall season. 

Anna [Andrysova] has been a huge addition to our programme. She came in, had five tournaments in the fall season and finished in the top six individually in four of them. She had our lowest scoring average and was sitting in our number one spot. To be able to make such a big impact as a freshman is really special. Not far behind was our senior, Chantal [Dueringer]. Those two were really electric.

Spring season

27-28 February, 2023

GCU Invitational, Arizona

Team: 1st, -19. Individual: T2, Alessia Mengoni. 4, Chantal Dueringer

GolfStat Ranking: 98

Process was something that we were really keen on in the fall semester, and we decided to carry that through because it was working. One thing that we discovered is we have a great routine leading up to the tournament; our practice rounds are always structured the same and we tried to keep everything really similar week to week. 

In Jacksonville for our first event back in the spring, we noticed that we were a little sloppy [the team finished 7th], so we sharpened things up before the next tournament in Grand Canyon and look what happened: 19 under, program record, big win.

19-21 March, 2023

Bama Beach Bash, Alabama

Team: 1st, +15. Individual: 1, Chantal Dueringer. T5, Johanna Sjursen and Anna Andrysova.

If we didn't go through some of those adverse moments in the fall and early on in the spring, I don't think we would have had the success that we had. At the Beach Bash, we had a big lead but this time the girls handled themselves completely differently.

We held a 13-shot lead over Colorado State, one of the highest ranked teams we'd played all year. To keep the foot on the gas and shoot two under in the final round as a team, the second lowest of the day, in tricky conditions, was really impressive.

Team and individual success at the Bama Beach Bash

Chantal is an unbelievable ball striker. In 20 mile an hour winds at the Beach Bash, she missed four greens total. She's been a huge asset to the program and we were so happy for her to pull off this win. 

Our team gets along really well. They're very supportive of each other. I watched the video back of Chantal winning and all the girls going in and throwing water on her. They were all so excited for her. They knew how long she had been waiting for the win. It was just great to see how supportive they are of each other. As a coach, I love to see that. That's the culture and that's the energy surrounding the program that I'm trying to build. 

3-4 April, 2023

ULM Invitational, Louisiana

Team: 1st, +16. Individual: 1, Alessia Mengoni. 3, Chantal Dueringer. T5, Johanna Sjursen.

GolfStat Ranking: 88

I really like being able to dive into Clippd after logging so many qualifying rounds on our home course. Being able to pinpoint literally every single shot and see the Average Shot Quality for each player on different holes feeds into our course management. Clippd gives me the information, but being able to translate it and apply it directly is what I get excited about.

Bayou DeSiard Country Club is the kind of course where home course advantage is real. We know how to navigate that golf course and we know where to be and not to be on certain holes. Before our home tournament, we looked at Clippd to see exactly where the players were dropping shots. We put all our stats from practice into Clippd and with the shot-by-shot analysis, we were able to pinpoint trends on certain holes. That was really important. 

"Before our home tournament, we looked at Clippd to see exactly where the players were dropping shots"

It definitely proved advantageous for us because we were able to beat Sam Houston, the highest ranked team that we've beaten in program history. And we shot lower scores in the tournament than we do in qualifying! I think that was because we were able to pinpoint the problem areas.

The golf course and the community at Bayou really wrap their arms around us for the ULM Invitational. We are so fortunate to have really amazing community support. They came out and watched as did all of our academic and athletic staff at ULM. To be able to showcase our players and our program and for people to see just how talented they are was really important to me. It was really special for the girls to be able to play in front of a home crowd.


16-18 April

Sun Belt Conference Championship, Florida

Team, 1st (won on second playoff hole), +16. Individual: 2, Chantal Dueringer. T6, Alessia Mengoni.

GolfStat ranking: 72

According to the GolfStat ranking, we were the third highest ranked team behind James Madison and Old Dominion going in. Scoring average is a really great indication of how good your golf is so in our minds, we were number one. 

We were leading going into the last round but I thought we’d blown it coming down the stretch. Anna lost a ball just off the fairway on 17 and made a triple. Johanna did the same thing. She hit it in the hazard on 17, had to pitch out and then airmailed the green. Made a double. I'm like, 'Did we just blow it? Oh my gosh.' 

I was walking back to Chantal, who was coming in on 18, when I saw one of my former player's parents. I looked at him and said, 'I think we just blew it.' He told me that Chantal had birdied 16 and 17 and the Texas State girl made bogey, so there had been a three-shot swing. I said, 'Okay, we're still in it.'

Coach Pollock gives a team talk

They ended up tying the last hole so we were tied through 54 holes. The playoff format is play five, count five. Three of our players and two of the Texas State girls all tee off together. They play in a five ball and then the second ball is three Texas State girls, two ULM girls. Everybody plays, everybody counts. 

"They looked like seasoned veterans that have been playing competitive golf at such a high level forever"

We both played 18 at one over as a team. Line [Peterson], who came in for Sara [Hagglund] for the last round, made the most unbelievable par. She had to pitch out of a hazard and then hit a wedge from 100 yards to five feet and holed a slider. She was the one who was very nervous about the playoff so for her to make that par and keep us in was unbelievable. 

Then we went to number 10. The Texas State player made a double so we had a one-shot lead with two players to come in. Chantal and Anna both hit the green. The Texas State girls missed. Anna made a 20-footer for birdie, which kind of put the nail in the coffin, and Chantal had a tap in for par to seal it.

Celebrating a first ever conference title for the program

I was exhausted after the tournament. There was so much adrenaline and so much nervous energy. I ended up watching it back on ESPN because I didn't feel like I could properly take it in. I wanted to see what the girl's body language looked like and whether they had remained composed. I was so impressed with them, especially being under so much pressure. They looked like seasoned veterans that have been playing competitive golf at such a high level forever. 

8-10 May

NCAA San Antonio Regional, Texas 

Team, 10th, +48. Individual: Alessia Mengoni, T20

GolfStat Ranking: 72 (highest in program history)

In terms of getting ready, What To Work On is the greatest feature that Clippd has. It's great to be able to see what players are really good at and what they need to do to be just 1% better. That's what we focused on in getting ready for TPC San Antonio. 

We did some course research and game planning beforehand to see what was necessary in terms of course strategy. With Clippd, we can then take that and look at our What To Work On to ensure practice completely applicable to the regional site.

Lining up at TPC San Antonio for the NCAA regionals

We were seeded 11 of 12 teams but you have to play your way into the National Championship. Seeding doesn't matter. Ranking doesn't matter. It doesn't matter about the name on your bag, it's the numbers that you put up. We were teeing it up against some big name programs, but we were also making a name for ourselves. 

Unfortunately, we had to deal with adversity when Anna, our number two player, went down with a back injury the week before we left. We were rehabbing it all week and we thought that she would be able to tough it out and play. Unfortunately, Anna was in too much pain. She made it through 12 holes in the first round before having to medically withdraw. That was a huge loss for our team and our team score. Instead of playing five and counting four, we played four, counted four.

"Clippd has definitely contributed to our success. It's so visual and easy to understand"

The golf course was extremely difficult. TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour, and it has one of the highest scoring averages all year. We knew that it was going to be a really big test of golf. It rained for two of the three days and there was a lot of wind. But we really managed ourselves. I thought we did really well on the last day when we put up the fifth lowest round of the day. 

I think we definitely would have made a little bit more of a run at the national championship had we had our full starting line-up. But when all’s said and done, it was a really amazing experience for the program. 

Final thoughts

4 regular season wins

A first Conference Championship

New 36 and 54-hole program scoring records

GolfStat Ranking: 74

Looking back at the goals that we set at the start of the season, we smashed them all out of the park. If you're really lucky, you'll check off a handful of goals, but we've checked off every single one, which doesn't happen often. When it does, you kind of really soak it in. 

It's been really great to watch the girls' confidence grow, just knowing that they can show up to an event and feel like we're one of the teams to beat now. That wasn't the case last year and it wasn't the case in previous years. It's really rewarding to watch the change in mindset that the players have surrounding our program.

"It all comes back to the team. I am so proud of them."

Clippd has definitely contributed to our success. The how comes from coaching but knowing what to work on and when to put those things in place, that's been a huge key to our success. Clippd is so visual and easy to understand. It allows the players to really know their games inside and out. It gives the players ownership because they can go work on their own time and they know exactly what they need to work on. 

But it all comes back to the team. I am so proud of them. They're the ones out there in the conditions, putting up the scores. I've got such an amazing group and I'm really excited that four of five in our starting line-up are going to be back next year. We're going to try to start where we left off and come out with a bang.”

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