The Emory women’s golf team, appearing in their first tournament in program history, played this weekend at the NCAA Division III Fall Preview held at the 5,846-yard Palmer Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The Eagles finished in eighth place out of 13 teams, an impressive feat considering this was the team’s first ever competition. 

The Palmer Course proved to be a challenging test for the 70 golfers who participated in the tournament, with 15 mile per hour winds creating tough course conditions. Emory shot a total of 986 over three rounds, firing a 326 in the first round and 330 in both the second and third rounds.

Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) came out on top with a total team score of 926, followed by Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) with a score of 937 and Oglethorpe University (Ga.) with 958.

Head Coach Katie Futcher had a lot of praise for the team of freshmen.

“Everyone handled themselves well and represented Emory in a great way,” Futcher said. “Having a team that consists of all freshmen is difficult, but there is a lot of opportunity for leadership, and I’m very happy with what I’ve seen so far.”

Emory’s newly minted squad consists of five freshmen, including Ksheera Jalakam, who had a standout performance. Jalakam fired off a team-low first-round 76, finishing in 21st place overall with a total tournament score of 243. Jessie Ji, Alice Acosta and Shriya Agarwal also had solid weekends, as they all found themselves within the top 41. This was just the beginning for a resilient group of freshmen who fought hard in their first collegiate tournament. 

Natalie Spitzer, who carded a three-day total of 257, said she learned to persevere despite unfavorable conditions.

“I think one of the biggest takeaways from this weekend was that, even if you have a bad hole, you can’t give up because you never know what’s going to happen with your competition,” Spitzer said. “The course was in great shape, but the weather was very unpredictable. The wind was changing directions every few holes, and the rain was on and off all weekend.”

Despite the team’s lack of experience, Futcher embraced the community the team has built so far.

“It would be nice to have upperclassmen to help the freshmen adjust, but it’s unbelievable that they get to experience all of this together,” Futcher said.

The team will head to Montgomery, Ala., on Sept. 28 for the Montgomery Country Club Women’s Intercollegiate tournament.