For Head Women’s Golf Coach Katie Futcher, the inaugural season of Emory’s newly christened team is less than a year away. In the meantime, she has travelled nationwide, aiming to connect with about 15 potential students every week. She has already visited Connecticut, Maine, California and Oregon to do so. This month alone she plans to travel to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Colorado and Washington to continue building a team for the Fall 2019 season.

In July, Emory announced Futcher as the head coach for the newly established women’s golf program, the first sports team added to Emory’s roster in 20 years.

Futcher joined Emory after a year on James Madison College’s (Mich.) golf coaching staff, where she served as an assistant and later interim head coach. She also spent one year as a volunteer coach at Pennsylvania State University, her alma mater. Futcher started coaching after a nine-year career in the LPGA.

The women’s golf team will begin its inaugural varsity season in Fall 2019. Futcher, who began working at Emory on July 23, has already begun the recruitment process.

Through recruiting across the nation, Futcher has found 30 potential athletes interested in the Women’s Golf team. However, none have committed to Emory at this time, she said.

She projects a team of eight to 10 varsity athletes, with six to eight incoming freshman, a spot for potential transfer students as well as students already enrolled at Emory depending on their skill level.

“Everybody that I’ve spent the day with has been a high school student,” Futcher said of her experience at Emory so far. “Because I’m also new to this school, I like to go to the information sessions as well. I like to walk around campus with them, just so I can become more familiar with the school as well.”

Futcher said personal conversations with recruits are important, but ensuring making sure that Emory is visible and that student athletes know Emory has a golf team — most importantly by competing in tournaments — have been crucial to spreading interest in the new team.

“I’ve had some [conversations], the gamut of … feedback [including], ‘Oh, Emory has a golf team?’ [and] ‘Wow, this is really cool, I’m going to apply,’ ” Futcher said. “Even by being visible, I’ve had several potential students reach out just because I was at an event.”

Futcher’s coaching and playing experience impressed Emory, according to Clyde Partin Senior Director of Athletics Michael Vienna.

“She’s been around golf for her whole life, [and has a] commitment to excellence and a true sense of passion for competition,” Vienna said.

Futcher, who played four years of Division I golf at Pennsylvania State University, said she plans to use her past experience as a student athlete to help her be a better golf coach.

“I understand and have all the same emotions that they did, or rather, do,” Futcher said. “I know this school is very academically rigorous, so I can very much relate to that, and certainly, I was in their shoes.”  

Futcher said she still struggles to balance the overwhelming student interest with producing a competitive team.

“We’re trying to look for student athletes that have some experience, but also, results aren’t everything,” Futcher said. “I’m also looking for intangibles that players would bring to the team, the team atmosphere, the team culture. I love students who are inquisitive, who like to work hard.”

Futcher said coaches by nature are competitive, and she certainly wants to win a national championship. She said she is confident Emory can attract talented student athletes and produce national championship teams.

“Results sometimes are not within our control,” Futcher said. “I would really like our focus to be on the things that we can control. If we do a really good job at focusing on our preparation, our attention to detail, our attitude, the energy we bring to practice, our work ethic — those are all things we can control.

Vienna said the Emory Athletics Department has given Futcher its full support.

“What we hope and expect [is] that our women’s golf program will quickly fall in line with the rest of our varsity athletics program in terms of how strong our students compete academically as well as athletically,” Vienna said.

The coach said she relishes the opportunity to shape the women’s golf team from scratch.

“Ultimately it came down to [realizing that] I get to build a program,” Futcher said. “I get to set the culture, I get to pick the team and I get to be part of a great university that has a long standing tradition of academic and athletic excellence. For me, it was perfect.”

UPDATE (9/6/18 9:49 p.m.): An earlier version of this article was not posted in its entirety. The rest of the article has been added.

Emory plans to launch a women’s golf program that will begin varsity play in Fall 2019. A non-varsity team will begin competing Fall 2018, Clyde Partin Senior Director of Athletics Michael Vienna said.

The varsity team will be the 10th women’s varsity sports team at Emory.

“[The idea] … hasn’t really officially been on the table for any great length of time, but it was certainly something that I contemplated very early in my tenure here,” Vienna said. “It seemed like a natural progression since we had men’s golf … and should have women’s golf. [We] certainly also want to make sure that we’re providing varsity athletic opportunities to our female student body.”

The women’s team will practice and participate in tournaments at the Smoke Rise Country Club golf course in Stone Mountain, Ga., the same venue used by the men’s golf team.

“[The teams] will have to work together a little bit because they’re going to be on the same course,” Vienna said. “I don’t think [the addition of women’s golf will] have a huge impact — no more than what our men’s and women’s tennis [teams] go through.”

Emory plans to begin searching for a coach in the next couple weeks, Vienna said. Once hired, the coach will recruit high school students for the 2019-2020 academic year and current Emory students for next semester’s non-varsity team, Vienna said.

Vienna introduced the varsity golf team in an April 26 email to students, urging Emory students with interest in playing on the non-varsity golf team to contact him or Senior Director of Athletics Joyce Jaleel.

Vienna said if enough women with “some true golf ability” express interest, the Athletics Department can support a couple tournaments in Fall 2018.

“There’s a chance that we may have a couple of students here already that would be very good golfers and could be very competitive on a varsity team if we had varsity golf right now,” Vienna said.

Vienna added that there are currently no plans to create any other sports teams. Emory currently has 19 varsity teams.

“We’ve not added a sport — men or women — in 20 years,” Vienna said.

The No. 3 Emory golf team poses with their first-place award at the Discover Dekalb Spring Invitational at the par-70 Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain, Ga. The Eagles captured their first win since 2011 on April 8 and 9. Courtesy of Emory Athletics

The No. 3 Emory golf team captured its first win since 2011 at the Discover DeKalb Spring Invitational on April 8 and 9 at the par-70 Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain, Ga.

The Eagles capped off a spectacular final round to propel the team to victory by reaching a season-low mark of 278 in the second round (two-under par), finishing at 564 (286-278). No. 2 Huntingdon College (Ala.) placed second with a score of 570 (285-285), while Emory’s B team followed with 576 (286-290). No. 1 Methodist University (N.C.) (294-293) and No. 21 Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) (298-293) closed out the rest of the top five.

Head Coach John Sjoberg praised the team’s effort after Emory notched its first win out of 15 teams in the 36-hole tournament since 2011.

“We played really, really well [on Sunday] to close the deal, which was fantastic to watch,” Sjoberg said.

Junior Stefano Butti inspired the Eagles’ victory during Sunday’s final round when he tied the school record for a low round of 66. It was a big turnaround for him after shooting well above par on the first day. Butti recorded seven birdies in the process, ending with a total score of 150 (84-66), good for 29th out of 83 players.

“I didn’t know [I tied the record] until the day was over,” Butti said. “[I was] trying to recover from the day before. My teammates did come through for me [on the first day].”

Huntingdon senior Jon Colten Stanaland (67-70 137) and junior Mark Connelly (71-68 139) returned home with the tournament’s two top scores.

Sophomore Matt Organisak finished with Emory’s top score and third place overall at 140 (72-68).

The rest of Emory’s A team included senior Keenan Hickton and junior Connor Yakubov, who both posted scores of 145, tying for 13th overall. Freshman Eric Yiu tied for fourth on the leaderboard with 141 (68-73).

Junior Anthony Muscato led the Eagles’ B team, finishing with a solid 141 (71-70). Senior Sean Murphy compiled a score of 144 (71-70) to clinch 10th place. The other three members of the B team — junior Noah Apter, sophomore Sam Galloway and freshman Davis Hingtgen — finished 16th, 18th and 29th, respectively.

To round out the competition, Emory claimed three players on the all-tournament team with Organisak, Yiu and Muscato alongside Stanaland, Connelly, Methodist sophomore Larkin Gross and LaGrange College (Ga.) freshman Ben Womack.

Sjoberg expressed high hopes for a quick turnaround and similar results in the next tournament.

“Hopefully we’ll carry the same momentum into the next tournament,” Sjoberg said. “Weather looks pretty decent, and the [two] courses up there are phenomenal.”

Regarding the team’s day off after the tournament, Butti added a vote of confidence to the Eagles’ next play.

“Not much time to prepare as for before,” Butti said. “It’s [still] business as usual.”

The Eagles will play next on April 13 and 14 at the Kravetz Invitational in Rochester, N.Y.

The No. 7-ranked Emory golf team finished seventh in the Tournament Town Preview, a three-round, 54-hole tournament, at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, NC, Sept. 24 to 25.

The Eagles finished with a final team score of 889 (292-219-306), placing seventh in a field of 18 teams. No. 1-ranked University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) earned first place with total score of 875. Following UT Tyler, No. 3-ranked Huntingdon College (Ala.) and No. 9-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University tied for second at 878. It was a rather disappointing finish for Emory after last week’s first-place finish at the Rhodes College Fall Classic.

“We just did not play well,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said of the results. “We’ll learn and rebound from it.”

Junior Connor Yakubov led Emory with a score of 221, a mark that left him five over par and 15th out of 90 players. Freshman Eric Yiu finished next for the Eagles, tying for 23rd with a score of 223 (+7). Senior Keenan Hickton followed in 37th with a score of 226. Junior Stefano Butti and sophomore Matt Organisak completed the tournament with scores of 227 and 230, placing them No. 42 and No. 53, respectively.

Yakubov noted the course’s difficulty level in comparison to last weekend’s tournament in Mississippi.

“The course was lot harder,” Yakubov said. “The course was more firm. Conditions were also tougher. It was windier [today]. However, that was not to blame for our performance.”

The Eagles will look to right the ship at the Oglethorpe Fall Invitational at Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club in Flowery Branch, Ga., Oct. 7 to 8.

Sjoberg anticipates another challenging course at Royal Lakes but has a gameplan for his team to bounce back from this week’s disappointing performance.

“[They] have to drive [the ball] well because it’s a fairly tight golf course,” Sjoberg said. “[However], if the conditions are good, we [have] to make a lot of birdies [to contend].”

The team will need to be back at its best as they battle against many of the same teams in two weeks at Royal Lakes.

The No. 7-ranked Emory golf team started off the season with a comfortable win at the Rhodes College Fall Classic in Tunica, Miss., Sept. 17-18. Sophomore Matt Organisak paved the way for the team, setting an Emory record in a 54-hole tournament with his three round total of 206.

The Eagles finished first in a field of 19 teams with a total team score of 855, breaking Emory’s team score record for a three-round event. The old record was set last year at the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational in Georgia, where the team had a mark of 866.

The Eagles finished seven shots under the No. 1-ranked University of Texas at Tyler, which finished in second with a score of 862. Southwestern University (Texas) placed third with a score of 866, followed by Rhodes College (Tenn.) at 873.

“We played well,” Organisak said. “It was very early in the season and the exact start we need for this season.”

Organisak starred for the team, as he earned joint first place honors alongside Will Hocker of Webster University (Mo.) in a 98-player field. Both shot 10-under par with a score of 206. Organisak also broke a few records on his way to the top of the leader board. His scores for the three rounds were 71-67-68. His second-round score gave him a career best for a round and his final score of 206 is a school record for a 54-hole tournament.

Head Coach Josh Sjoberg praised both the team’s and Organisak’s performance.

“It was brilliant,” Sjoberg said. “All five guys contributed. Everyone played well. [Organisak] played [well] going 10-under leading the way.”

Freshman Eric Yiu finished his first tournament in second place for the Eagles and No. 15 overall. He had a score of one over par at 217. Junior Connor Yakubov finished not far behind, going three over par for a score of 219, which placed him No. 19 overall. Seniors Keenan Hickton and Sean Murphy finished with scores of 221 (No. 27) and 223 (No. 37), respectively.

The Eagles will look to continue their hot start Sept. 24-25 at the NCAA DIII Fall Preview at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.

“[We just want to] continue to get better and gain confidence from it by staying with the process of doing what we do every day,” Sjoberg said. “We got good players that can keep playing at a high level.”

With another tournament this upcoming weekend, the team appears ready and determined to take on the challenge.  

Freshman golfer Sam Galloway scored his first career albatross — two strokes on a par five — at the Huntingdon Intercollegiate (Ala.) March 28 and 29, highlighting an up-and-down weekend that culminated in a fifth place finish out of the tournament’s 15 team field.

Junior golfer Keenan Hickton said that although Huntingdon held a solid hold on first place, Emory sat a mere eight shots out of second after the first round of play. With aspirations for a higher finish, the team’s hopes were high heading into day two.

“We are all a little frustrated with the way we played today, but [if we] pay attention to some decision making and [make] sure we are not giving shots away … we will work from there,” Galloway said. “We can only control what we can control and hope to be able to climb up the leaderboard.”

Unfortunately, despite shooting better on the whole, the puts were not dropping for this Eagles squad in the second and final round. The team shot the same score on day two and maintained their No. 5 rank.

“Finishing fifth isn’t necessarily a disappointment, but it felt like we could have played better,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said. “Huntingdon [College] obviously played great — they made almost 40 birdies and I think we made 13 or 14 for the two days. That’s the difference right there.”

Hickton placed best for the Eagles, tying for No. 13 on the leaderboard. He may not have had an albatross, but his steady play earned him a solid four-over-par score for the two-day tournament.

“[Hickton] bogeyed two of his last four [and still managed] to shoot 73,” Sjoberg said. “He was solid — it was a pretty simple game for him most of the day. He hit it on the fairway, made it on the green.”

Despite Hickton’s leading performance, Galloway’s week did not go unnoticed. He scored his first hole in one March 24 in addition to the three-under-par hole March 27, which he said gave him the confidence to finish strong.

“The highlight of [Monday] was Galloway,” Hickton said. “I have heard of [people scoring an albatross] but it’s pretty darn rare.”

According to Sjoberg, the strength of the top teams in this tournament made the competition important even though it was not as deep a field as the March 17 Jekyll Island Collegiate (Ga.).

With a strong showing at Jekyll and a victory at the UAA tournament, Sjoberg is more than pleased with the team’s performance thus far.

“It was a great month,” Sjoberg said. “We hope to continue to play well and put ourselves in positions to be in contention and that’s the goal every week.”

The Eagles will compete for the final time this season April 8 and 9 at the Emory Spring Invitational in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Kevin Kilgour contributed reporting.

The No. 5-ranked Emory golf team successfully defended their UAA title at the par 72 Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Fla., March 11 and 12.

Match play was best three games out of five. With Emory tied 2-2 with Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.), Emory sophomore Connor Yakubov went into extra holes in the final match to determine which team would prove victorious. Delivering a par in the final hole, Yakubov secured a 3-2 win over Carnegie Mellon and another UAA title for the Eagles.

Yakubov’s finale took center stage, but it required a team effort for the Eagles to capture the title 3-2 over the Tartans.

Freshman Matt Organisak, who also won his match, joined Yakubov on the Championship’s All-Tournament team.

This is the second consecutive title  for the Eagles. Junior Keenan Hickton said that unlike in past years, the team entered the conference championship as the favorite to win the tournament.

“We used to always come from behind and were never expected to win,” Hickton said. “It was exciting to deal with some pressure … and still win the tournament and play well.”

Head Coach Josh Sjoberg noted the hard work that his players put into the game.

“Depth has pushed these guys,” Sjoberg said. “Our play is as competitive as it has ever been. We have really good players and in order to get into that top five position we have to be ready to play every day.”

Next weekend’s competition, Hickton said, will be a “test of patience.”

The tournament will provide Emory with some tough competition, as 16 of the top 25 D-III teams will be in attendance, according to Sjoberg.

“[Our next tournament] will be one of the biggest tournaments of the year,” Hickton said. “It will be a big challenge because a lot of the tournaments we play are two days, this will be a three-day tournament and nationals will be a four-day.”

On March 17, the Eagles entered the Oglethorpe Spring Invitational in Jekyll Island, Fla. They finished the tournament March 19 ranked No. 5 out of 29 teams.

The Emory men’s golf team claimed its first top-three finish of the fall season at the Golfweek Division-III Fall Invitational at Raven Course in Sandestin, Fla., Oct. 9 to 11, finishing third out of 19 teams.

What seemed like a damaging round Monday with the Eagles looking far outside the top three was followed by a tie for the final round’s best score Tuesday. After moving up four spots on the leaderboard, Emory (+19) placed behind University of Texas at Tyler (+2) and Rhodes College (Tenn.) (+16), which finished first and second, respectively.

In a similar manner to Oct. 3 and 4 Oglethorpe Fall Invitational, freshmen Chuck Isgar and Matt Organisak led Emory’s team in the 54-hole tournament. Both players carded a three-round score of one over par, good enough for a tie at fifth overall. Isgar was Emory’s strongest golfer Sunday and Monday, coming into the final round at three under par. Despite a triple bogey on the ninth and a double bogey on the 11th, Isgar salvaged a top-five finish. Organisak improved as the tournament progressed, finishing with a better score each day. His score of two under par Tuesday helped lead the Eagles to their best finish of the season.

Other Emory golfers who contributed to the team’s top-three finish included sophomore Stefano Butti (+14) and juniors Sean Murphy (+9) and Keenan Hickton (+14).

Head Coach John Sjoberg praised the two freshmen golfers’ contributions.

“Matt [Organisak] and Chuck [Isgar] played great,” Sjoberg said. “Chuck really carried us the first two rounds — that was really impressive.”

Isgar relished the opportunity to impact the team’s performance in his second collegiate tournament.

“I was able to bring my game and contribute to a really strong team performance,” Isgar said. “This was a really great way to top off our [Fall 2016 season], and I am proud of how I was able to help lead the team the first two days.”

Emory will be coming off its top two finishes when the team takes on its final Fall 2016 tournament. Sjoberg expressed his optimism about the team and its performance in that upcoming tournament.

“I think we’re right on track,” Sjoberg said. “It’s been a very good fall. The last tournament is a B-team event. We get to have eight different people play, which is great.”

Isgar, who has finished in the top-10 in back-to-back weeks, is looking forward to both the team’s upcoming tournament and the spring season.

“I hope to continue to be a major contributor to this team,” Isgar said. “I saw a lot of positivity the past two weeks. I think it is indicative of what I’m able to do and where my game is at right now.”

The Eagles will cap off the Fall 2016 season at Chick-fil-A Invitational at Stonebridge Golf Course in Rome, Ga., Oct. 17 and 18.

The Emory men’s golf team put together its best performance of the season so far Oct. 3 and 4, finishing fourth out of 18 teams at the Oglethorpe Fall Invitational at Royal Lakes Golf Club in Flowery Branch, Ga.

Emory’s 36-hole team score of three over par was enough to separate the Eagles by 10 strokes from the next best team, Centre College (Ky.). Finishing ahead of Emory were Greensboro College (N.C.) in first, LaGrange College (Ga.) in second and Oglethorpe College (Ga.) in third.

Freshman Matt Organisak, who finished fifth overall, headlined Emory’s improved play. He put together a two-round score of four under par. In only his third collegiate tournament, Organisak put together one of the best 36-hole performances in Emory history.

Head Coach John Sjoberg lauded Organisak’s performance, noting “Matt tied Emory’s best score at Royal Lakes at 140. It was the second best 36-hole score in school history.”

Organisak wasn’t the only Emory freshman to finish within the top 10. In his first collegiate competition, freshman Chuck Isgar carded a score of two under par, which was good enough for seventh overall. Junior Sean Murphy joined teammates Organisak and Isgar in the top 10, ending tied for 10th overall with a score of even par.

Other Emory golfers to compete this week included junior Keenan Hickton (+3), freshman Sam Galloway (+8) and sophomores Anthony Muscato II (+9) and Stefano Butti (+3).

The golf team’s performance during the Oglethorpe Invitational is a major turnaround from the first two tournaments of the Fall 2016 season. Emory began the season with lackluster finishes in back-to-back tournaments. A sixth-place finish to start off the season was followed by a failure to crack the top 10.

In desperate need of a confidence booster, the Eagles found much needed redemption Monday and Tuesday.

Sjoberg highlighted some of the team’s improvements this past weekend.

“It was better quality golf. Especially off the tee, I thought we were very good. We were very good driving the golf ball for most of both rounds, and that was a big key to this golf course.”

Sjoberg predicted that the freshmen’s significant contributions signal a bright future for the golf team.

“Matt [Organisak] was great. It was great to see [Chuck Isgar] play well and finish in the top,” Sjoberg said. “They are going to have a major impact going forward. We have a fairly young team with no seniors. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”

Emory’s golf team will compete this weekend at the Golfweek Fall Division-III Invitational at Raven Golf Club in Sandestin Resort, Fla.