Sept. 20, 2007
Eastern Washington University golfer Chloe Nelson sat for a question-and-answer session about the team's season so far and how she and the team are preparing to play co-host to the MDA Invitational at Hangman Valley Golf Course in Spokane on Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 24 and 25). Monday's play begins at 9 a.m. (two rounds), while Tuesday will see the first golf ball struck at 8 a.m. (one round)
The Eagles will be competing with 12 other teams at that tournament, three Big Sky Conference schools (Montana, Montana State and Northern Arizona) and nine other teams (British Columbia, Cal Poly, Gonzaga, Portland, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, UC Riverside, Western Washington and Wyoming).
The junior golfer also recently spoke with Golfweek TV's Lance Ringler about her summer spent volunteering in South Africa, helping introduce girls in Soweto to the sport of golf. Soweto is located 12 miles from Johannesburg and is one of the poorest parts of South Africa.
The two-time All-Big Sky Conference golfer also served as a speaker with a goal to help the girls transfer what they have learned in school into the recreation field and possibly ultimately into other vocations, such as the medical field.
That video is accessible at www.offcampuswithlanceringler.com. She will also be featured in Golfweek Magazine in mid-October.
Talk about the team's play as a whole at the Ptarmigan Fall Classic
"It went really well. We played all three new girls that we had, and they did really well. We had 70s along the line. For them to start shooting low at the first tournament is a good sign because at the first tournament at college, nerves are a little higher than normal. We came together as a group really well. The team dynamic is really focused this year, and I am excited for the rest of the season."
How has practice been the last couple weeks, preparing for the MDA Invitational?
"Practice has been tedious, lots of work. Everybody's trying to fine-tune everything, get the putting down, get the short game down and make sure our drives are on the fairway; we are trying to hit as many greens as we possibly can. It's fun, but it's also to see where everybody is playing. We're hoping to come out and do really well at our home tournament. Everybody is getting a feel for the course (Wednesday was the team's third day of practicing on the course). The girls like it - the first day we went out, they all shot lights out. Then the last couple days have been a little shaky, but we're just getting our feet wet a little bit and jumping into it."
How excited are you to play in the Spokane-Cheney area?
"I'm excited. It's nice to have a `home' tournament, because we don't have to pack, travel or come home late. It's great. A lot of the girls are from the Northwest and a lot of their parents are coming up. My parents (from Las Vegas, Nev.) are flying up this time. It will be great to have the support of the athletics department, the school and the community behind us. It's a great thing."
What does the team look to get out of the fall tournaments as opposed to the spring ones?
"In fall tournaments, we just try to get our feet wet, especially with the new girls coming in. They have some new exploring to do with their golf game, with their life, with school. That's always a little bumpy, a little roller coaster ride, but when it comes spring, we try to win the conference championship. Every time we play, we try to beat all the Big Sky teams. We are always head-to-head with Montana and Portland State. It's tedious, but it's good. It's good competition and there are a bunch of good players out there and you try and place yourself up against the best."
Talk about the chemistry of the team.
"We've got some shy ones. We've got four from out of the country. We're working on the U.S. versus Canada dynamic (three players are American, three are Canadian and one is French). It's fun. The team is really great. They're very bubbly. We have a younger group in with only three returnees. They are very bubbly, upbeat, ready to play. They're anxious, excited. It's been really fun so far.
"Everybody is blending really well. Everybody gets along. There's no tension, at least not yet thank goodness. The last two years, we haven't really had any tension on the golf end, and it has been a great place to get away to. I hope that it is this year also. The girls seem ready to play and strive to do their best. A lot of them have come out and said they want to beat me really bad, so I've got some competition. We've got people who really want to work hard. It's great for me, it's great for the team, it's great for the coach. All around, it's a really wonderful thing."
How long have you been practicing this fall?
"We reported Sept. 6, so we've been together 13 days straight. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, we're all together. It's a good dynamic."
What is it like to play for Marc Hughes?
"Coach is a very interesting guy. He's great. He works with everybody so well. He is in tune with everybody's personality. He just knows how to make things turn around, especially if you're having a bad day. But if you're having a good day, he just makes your life light up a little more. It's wonderful. He's a great coach; he knows what he's doing. Why he doesn't have a (Big Sky Championship) win under his belt, I have no idea. It's driving me out of my mind. It's my third year and I want this conference win. I want the Big Sky Championship. I want the banner on the wall that says the EWU golf team won, really badly. I was able to put two banners up in high school, and I want to put another banner up in college. He's a great guy, interesting; everybody loves him. He's very sociable, just a wonderful guy all around. He knows when to have fun and he knows when to crack the whip; it's a good thing."
How did you first get involved with golf?
"When I was younger, I played basketball, softball and soccer from elementary through middle school. My parents signed me up for a six-week lesson plan to teach me the basic technique and mechanics of golf. After that, I got hooked on it. I've played since I was 8 years old. It's fun for me to have the pressure on myself and for me to make the moves when I have to make them, to be able to strive for something, kind of alone but also, in the college field, also as a team. My swing coach down in Vegas, when I turned 9, said, `I think she's ready for tournaments.' My parents signed me up for tournaments, couple here and there, and I did really well, won a couple within the first week or so, and it's gone uphill from there.
"Individuality really hooked me on it. I'm an only child. I like working to see what I can do under pressure, what character comes out. Either I can do it or I can't. I just try to work hard. The more work I put into it personally, the better I am going to get, so it's one of those strive things. I have to push myself. Nobody else really pushes me."