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Women's Golf - Wed, May. 13, 2009
RAPID CITY, S.D. - We thought it would be interesting to get a report from different members of the team during their week in the Dakotas. The first entry into the Dakota Diary is from head coach Michael Johnson. Johnson has led the Trevecca women's golf program for seven seasons. The last five have resulted in conference championships and his being named the conference coach of the year. This is the first trip for the women's golf program to the NAIA Championships. Betsy Beaver and Ashley Birdwell have teamed to win two out of the last three TranSouth Tournament Medalist honors.

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DAY SIX:  May 14, 2009 - Senior Brooke Dillehay: Today we got an early start once again, waking up about 7:15 a.m. We decided to get breakfast at the course so we could lounge and relax before we started play today at 9:00 a.m. The weather was AMAZING today. (of course compared to yesterday anything slightly warm and less windy is amazing). It was slightly chilly, but warmed up fairly fast.

As we were warming up for the day we expected the same routine as always. Alyssa would start us off, followed by me, Betsy and then Ashley. Well surprise surprise!!! As we all were warming up we heard them begin to call the first tee time for our team. They rambled off Lindenwood, then Walsh, and then we heard "Trevecca Nazarene, Brooke Dillehay". Being very confused and half way through my warm up, I walked over to the tee. Alyssa, already being there, had asked why my name was called instead of hers and they had no explanation other than we had to play in the order of the tee sheet. So needless to say I teed off unprepared. (right into the water)

On a better note, we managed to knock nearly 30 strokes off our score from yesterday and shot our low round as a team for the National Tournament, 338. We managed to prove ourselves to a field of very tough golfers. We made our place at the 15th Annual National Tournament and look forward to return trip next year. Unfortunately, I will not be joining the team next year if another National Championship opportunity comes around. As a senior, I have been through it all and am glad to see that I have finally made it to the end of this long road. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Trevecca and wish the girls the best of luck next year, I know I couldn't have made it this far without them and I know they will make Trevecca very proud in the years to come. I especially want to give thanks to Coach. (What a great man). He has helped me tremendously and I owe him a thousand times again for helping me reach my dreams.

Tomorrow we plan to sleep in and catch up on all that lost sleep. We plan to do what girls do best, SHOP, at the local mall here in Rapid City, South Dakota. Our flight leaves at 5:00 pm to head back home. HOME SWEET HOME.

DAY FIVE:  May 13, 2009 - Head Coach Michael Johnson:
By now, most folks know that the weather was the dominant chapter of the tournament story today.  It hurt us in that we didn't respond as well as some teams, but in reality, it affected just about everybody else, too.  Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph at times makes the round of golf feel more like a boxing match by the time you get done.
For example, California Baptist is a terrific NAIA team.  They've been in the #2 or #3 slot in the national rankings all year and, after yesterday, looked like a legitmate threat to unseat four-time defending champion Oklahoma City.  They were only nine over par as a team after yesterday.  Any time an NAIA women's team breaks 300 (averaging 75 per player) it's significant.  Cal Baptist shot a nice 297 yesterday... They shot 337 today. 
That's just one example of much higher scores across the board.  OCU remains the favorite to win again, but University of British Columbia (whom we played with in the first two rounds) and Bethel (IN) College are just a few shots back and with two more rounds to go, you just never know.  Even Cal Baptist and Embry Riddle could still make a run at the top.
Now, to the rest of today's news... After catching our breath a bit and warming back up, we left on a late afternoon excursion to the Badlands of South Dakota and included a quick stop for a five cent cup of coffee at the legendary Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD.  The Badlands are a true wonder of nature.  The imagination of our Creator is on display in grand fashion all over this part of the country.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our golfing experience on the national stage in the NAIA, but it's also been a great cultural experience for me and the team.
We're paired with Walsh University from Canton, OH and Lindenwood University from St. Charles, MO tomorrow.  They're both fine institutions and have quality people leading their programs.  I'm confident our young ladies will give a good account of themselves.  You can all be proud of the way they've represented their families and the University!

DAY FOUR:  May 12, 2009 - Freshman Ashley Birdwell:
Today officially started our first round at the national tournament. Since we did not tee off until 2:00 p.m. (MT), the team decided to rest and enjoy brunch at IHOP. Once we arrived at the course, the feeling of accomplishment finally registered in our minds. We realized that our hard work had truly paid off. Even though we were nervous, everyone on the team was excited about competing.

Our first nine holes were accompanied with sunshine and warm weather. However, the back nine proved to be troublesome due to strong gusts of wind and a significant drop in temperature. Everyone persevered through the change in conditions and finished strong. Betsy Beaver led the team with a score of 80. She started with a birdie and continued to remain focused and dedicated on every shot. I made a difficult par putt on 18 to finish with a score of 83. Alyssa Moe bounced back from some unlucky breaks to finish with a score of 87. Finally, Brooke Dillehay rounded out the team with a score of 89. She hit the ball solid all day long but had one rough hole. 

The team finished 22nd overall today, but we are only eight strokes away from 16th place. Everyone feels confident about their ability to come back tomorrow with better scores. We realize that we belong in a national tournament and can compete with the best. We are looking forward to playing tomorrow even though the weather is predicted to be chilly and windy. 

DAY THREE:  May 11, 2009 - Head Coach Michael Johnson: Well, Monday at the NAIA national tournament is all about the official practice round. Although we were given our tee times for the first and second rounds, the times for Monday's practice round are determined by a sign-up sheet in the coaches meeting on Sunday night. According to the final national rating, coaches were given the opportunity to choose the time and tee (#1 or #10) they preferred. We followed our friends from Southern Nazarene, Berry, and Tennessee Wesleyan off the #1 tee at about 11:00 a.m.
It was a really nice day with bright sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s and occasionally gusty winds. The ladies played a relaxed round with very few hiccups. For not having ever played the course, I thought they managed their shots very well. It's a "shot-makers" course that provides some hope for good scores.
For those who've played in Nashville, there's a little bit of Hermitage Golf Course (although not as lush and manicured) and some of what you might see at Two Rivers and McCabe in terms of a mixture of fairly flat and open with some trees and a couple of gentle hills. The greens are very nice in spite of the heavy play Meadowbrook gets as a municipal course. Rapid Creek runs through or along several of the holes and it really reminds me of a typical mountain stream that flows through a valley.
We enjoyed the Champions Banquet this evening here at the hotel. Buffalo sirloin steak was the main course and most everyone enjoyed it. I'm not sure the chef was happy for so many girls to be asking for ketchup and steak sauce, but it was really very tasty. 
Betsy Beaver was recognized both as TNU's Champions of Character recipient as well as an NAIA Scholar-Athlete. Betsy is a rising senior with a 3.9 GPA. Our team, along with all the others in the field, were presented in a printed program and a nice slide show.
We were also treated to an incredible display of Lakota Indian hoop dancing. A young lady from here in Rapid City who is a student at Black Hills State University put on quite a show. I lost count of how many hoops she was using at one time, but suffice to say, I can't even keep one hula hoop going without either hurting myself or someone else.
It's time for bed... It's also time to see how we stack up. We'll hope to send along some good news about our play on Tuesday.

DAY TWO:  May 10, 2009 - Junior Betsy Beaver: Everybody was really thankful to make Sunday a day of rest. After sleeping in a bit, we headed up into the Black Hills and enjoyed a scenic drive to some of America's most magnificent monuments and some of God's most interesting creations.

First up was the unbelievable tribute to Crazy Horse- the Lakota Indian chief. It's still a work in progress but is expected to be the largest monument in the world and was really cool to see something so massive!

Our next stop was Mt. Rushmore- IT WAS SO COOL... Literally!!  In spite of a brief bout with a cold rain shower that actually had some sleet in it, seeing Mt. Rushmore in person was just amazing. We had some fun taking photos and visiting the gift shop.

The Black Hills National Forest has so many awesome rock formations and beautiful evergreen trees. And the little towns in the mountains are really nice as well.

Late in the afternoon while Coach was in some meetings, we went out to the course and hit some balls on the driving range and worked on our putting. The official practice round is tomorrow and everybody is really pumped about being here and finally getting to play for real on Tuesday.

DAY ONE:  May 9, 2009 - Head Coach Michael Johnson: Saturday was all about the highs and lows of air travel (no pun intended)... We had a 6:00 a.m. departure from Nashville on Frontier Airlines, meaning we had to be at the airport around 4:45. We awoke to heavy rain and thunderstorms and, sure enough, the rough weather delayed our flight about 40 minutes which obviously delayed our arrival in Denver. This resulted in us missing our connection to Rapid City, so we got re-booked on United but arrived in Rapid City a couple of hours behind schedule. Even with all that, flying still got us here in a fraction of the time it would've taken to drive the almost 1300 miles from Nashville to Rapid City.
We made a brief trip out to the golf course and decided that it's a much flatter track than we typically play in the south. We also noticed fewer trees, but it's still a challenging shot-makers course. It's pretty simple - if you hit it straight more times than not, you have a chance to score well. But that's true for just about any course, right?
The trials of the day, including a first-ever flight for one of our girls, combined with very little sleep on Friday night led to an afternoon of rest.  The team, with some encouragement from a very weary coach, decided to wait until Sunday to visit Mt. Rushmore.