By Gabe Chapman
It might come as a surprise to hear that freshman Natalie Galster plays on the Lawrence University Men’s Golf team. It might also come as a surprise to learn that she picked up the game of golf at all. A freshman from Wautoma, Wisc. studying in the Conservatory of Music, Galster did not come from a family of avid golfers.
“It is kind of weird, nobody in my family plays golf,” said Galster. “[My mom started bringing me to] lessons when I was 10 and I liked it. It is something that I can continue to do my whole life, and I think it is a good skill to have.”
Through lessons and parental support, Galster developed a love for the game and began playing junior Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) tournaments in Wisconsin. When Galster arrived on campus, she was eager to explore any golf opportunities Lawrence had to offer, but found her options to be limited.
“I heard [Lawrence] had a golf team and I really wanted to be on it,” said Galster. “I found out they did not have a women’s team, so I talked to Coach [Jonathan] Sheridan about that and he said ‘if you don’t mind playing from the blue tees, we’d love to have you.’”
Not only is she one of a few female athletes to compete with the men’s team at Lawrence, this is the first time Galster has ever been a member of any organized golf team. Growing up in Wautoma, Galster was home-schooled and therefore, never played for a high school.
Despite the added challenge of competing at the men’s level, the pressure of being the only woman on the team has not dampened her desire to play and to improve her game. If anything, it has had a positive effect. Her respect for the skill of her teammates has motivated her to work harder to try to get to their playing level.
“These guys are really good golfers. It is a little intimidating, just because I am used to playing from the women’s tees all my life and I cannot hit the ball as far as they do, so that is definitely a disadvantage,” she said. “But it does not really affect me at all. It just makes me want to work harder.”
To make up for the limited amount of time the team actually spends on the course, Galster said that they try to get together when not out playing. “Coach wants us to get out and play two practice rounds a week, but that just doesn’t happen because everyone is too busy,” she said. “But we are always eating lunch and dinner together.”
Galster is allowed to play in tournaments with the team, but her schedule has only allowed her to compete in the first one of this fall season. Pending no conflicts with her schedule in the Conservatory, Galster is looking forward to the spring season when she hopes to be able to compete with the team on a regular basis. She hopes to play on the team all four years at Lawrence.