Although she didn’t finish atop the leaderboard as an individual, Laura Kanouse can finally call her team National Champions. After co-founding the club a year and half ago, Kanouse found herself in her final NCCGA tournament at the #Battle4Bryan.
Luckily, she finished her decorated career the way every competitor dreams, with a win. After coming up short two National Championships in a row, the University of Florida was determined to finally take home the title.
Florida is still a relatively new Club Golf program. Laura Kanause and Brandon Harrold founded the team last Spring, and in their first season they qualified for the National Championship.
In their second season they put themselves in position to win, but could not finish the job. The Gators finished second at the rain-shortened event. This season, they are officially NCCGA National Champions, defeating #1 ranked Baylor and the defending National Champions Clemson.
“Our goals when we started the semester were to have both teams qualify for Nationals and win the national championship,” said club president Blake Herschberger. “So to achieve both of those goals is very special.”
Having both teams at the National Championship to celebrate only made it all the more satisfying.
After the first round of the National Championship Florida found itself playing from behind. Florida played well and shot 371 as a team, but found themselves trailing Baylor by 2.
On Saturday, UF was led by scores of 72, 73, and 74 fired by John Makarauskas, Tyler Segal, and Laura Kanouse. They played the Players Course, which was the more forgiving course at Bryan Park. This meant that Sunday they would need someone to step up and go low on the signature 18 holes, The Champions Course.
Josh Dubberly did just that. On Sunday he shot a 73, which was the third lowest score on the Champions course all weekend. Along with his 73, Kanouse added a 77, Segal a 78, and Sean Williams finished with a strong 78 to conclude his college golf career.
These scores on Sunday gave Florida a second day 387, which bested Baylor by 3 shots and Clemson by 5. This come from behind victory was gutsy, but not surprising based on the talent and background of the Florida Players.
National Championship Leaderboard
Florida’s club golf team is different than most schools in the NCCGA. Florida has a couple players who could very well play varsity golf, but chose to go to Florida for reasons other than golf. Laura Kanouse is one of those players. She wanted to stay in Florida for college, but didn’t qualify for the Gator’s varsity team.
She could not go more than a year without competitive golf, and that’s what prompted her to create the club team, a decision she is forever grateful for.
“Club golf has been a catalyst in my golf career because it provided me competition when I would not have had it and has allowed me to move up to the varsity team at UF," Laura said.
She also claims club golf really showed her how passionate she is for the game, and given her amazing friends and connections she would have never had.
Next year will be different for the Florida Club Golf Team, but Herschberger is positive about the state of the club.
“The club is headed in the right direction even though we are losing players like Laura and Sean. They were a huge part of our team this year and they will be missed, but we have younger players from the B team who will step up and fill their shoes.”
Laura has an exciting road ahead of her for golf. Next year she will spend her senior year competing on the UF Women’s golf varsity team, and turn professional after college. Look out for Laura in Q-school in the fall of 2017 where she will hopefully make her break onto the LPGA Tour.
Congratulations to UF on their first National Championship. Also to Laura, Blake and Brandon for creating this high caliber program in only 3 seasons. They embody the NCCGA and Club Golf and have helped spread the game to non-varsity athletes across the country.
**Jack Stephens is the NCCGA Director of Communications. For lead content and poor humor, follow him on twitter @NCCGABlog