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Women's Varsity Golf Arrives

Women’s varsity golf arrives

1969 was the first year that women were admitted as undergraduates at Yale, and within several years, they organized club teams in field hockey, fencing, and several other sports. In 1972, Lawrie Mifflin and Sandy Morse were the first women to sit on the honorary Yale fence as sports captains. Indeed, as co-captains of the field hockey team, they were actually the first ever co-captains in Yale athletic history. After Chris Ernst, a two-time Olympian rower, led the Women’s Crew in a famous “strip-in” protest against Yale’s lack of athletic facilities for women, the University moved aggressively to expand opportunities and equalize facilities for female undergraduate athletes.

Women’s golf was one of the last sports to emerge as a varsity sport. David Paterson was a motivating force, and he served as its first coach from 1980 to 1993. The women played their first match as a varsity team on April 10, 1981 at the Yale course, losing to Rutgers with a three-person team captained by Andrea Francis, with Mary Lee Rhodes and Teddy Strain.

Darci Wilson took over for Paterson as coach for a year in 1993-1994, and then Amy Huether led them from 1994 to 1997. The Ivy League did not hold its first women’s championship in golf until April 1997. Playing at Bethpage (Long Island) Golf Course, the Yale team won convincingly by thirty-four strokes. Yale also dominated the first All-Ivy team; Charity Barras, Natalie Wong, and Chawwadee Rompothong were named to three of the seven places. The individual title in 1997 was won by Princeton’s Mary Moan, who capped her outstanding undergraduate career by becoming Princeton’s first All-­American in women’s golf.

Heather Daly-Donofrio graduated in the Class of 1991 after playing under Coach Paterson and went on to play on the professional Futures Tour. In 1997, she became the women’s team coach and took the team to its second consecutive Ivy title in a much more competitive tournament. After the first of two days, Yale was tied with Princeton, with team totals of 325, and the title came down to the final hole of the final twosome, when Yale’s Natalie Wong made par to beat Princeton’s Laura Gillmore by a stroke. Wong’s 154 for the two rounds also gave her the individual title.

Princetonian Mary Moan took over as coach in 2000 and recruited many successful players as the level and intensity of play continued to rise. In 2007, Chawwadee Rompothong returned to her alma mater. After graduating in 2000, Rompothong played on the Futures Pro Tour for two and one-half years, before becoming a teaching professional at Pinehurst (North Carolina). She moved back to Connecticut to teach at a private club and was named women’s team coach in 2007.

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