The nation’s best college golf teams return this week to the place where the Georgia women’s golf team joined their ranks.
A dozen teams and six individual golfers, including Bulldogs senior Emilie Burger, begin play today at the UGA Golf Course in the NCAA championships, which run through Friday on the course where Georgia won its first individual golf title in 1981.
Since, the program has churned out a long line of champions at the conference, national and professional levels.
Terri Moody, an Athens product, brought the program its first individual championship at the 1981 AIAW championships played at the UGA Golf Course, and the Bulldogs have since won an NCAA team championship in 2001 and two more individual national titles.
“I felt like the Terri Moody era kind of kick-started us,” said former Georgia golfer Cindy Schreyer, who won the 1984 NCAA individual title at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Tarpon Springs, Fla. “Terri was always that player that I looked up to and followed, and I felt like once Terri kicked it off, Georgia golf kind of hit the map and just kept going.”
Schreyer’s title, which like Moody’s came in a playoff, was the second for the Bulldogs. Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, then just Vicki Goetze, won the program’s third individual title as a freshman in 1992 in Tempe, Ariz. She edged Arizona’s Annika Sorenstam, against whom she would later compete at the LPGA level.
By the time Goetze-Ackerman, a Watkinsville native, won her title, the Georgia women’s golf program had established itself as one to watch.
“I felt like we were a really good program,” said Goetze-Ackerman, now the LPGA player president. “I felt like there were some great schools that had a higher status from a team standpoint, and maybe we weren’t recognized as one of the leading programs with places like Tulsa, [Arizona State], San Jose State and Furman because we didn’t have big names, but Georgia has always just played so well as a team. I think that’s a legacy that still continues.”
The Bulldogs finally broke through for their first, and so far only, team title in 2001 in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., under then-coach Todd McCorkle.
This year’s Georgia squad failed to qualify as a team, but Burger reached the championships as an individual with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Regional at Stanford.
“I know it’ll be really emotional,” Burger said. “I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to finish my career on my home course.”
Burger’s predecessors said they would be pulling for another big week for one of their own as the program hosts its fifth national championship event and first since 1993.
“I felt for the team and really wanted them to be at NCAAs,” Goetze-Ackerman said. “It’s difficult that the team didn’t qualify. Any time you have those regional qualifiers, anything can happen, from someone getting sick or just having a bad day, but I’m sure Emilie will carry the torch for the Georgia Bulldogs.”
IF YOU GO
NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Where: UGA Golf Course
When: Tee times begin at noon today; tournament runs through Friday
Tickets: A four-day pass is available for $40 for adults, $25 for senior citizens and college-age and younger students. Daily tickets are available for $12 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students.