Coaching golf at the collegiate level is something new head coach Molly Braid has never encountered before. She said she is ready to take on the challenge.
The Office of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Braid as the next women’s golf head coach on Aug. 12, after Dan Wood, the inaugural coach, retired along with his wife, assistant coach Sandi Wood, in June after six years at Ithaca College.
Braid said ever since she was hired, she has been looking forward to coaching all of the players on the squad.
Once her own college career was over, Braid said, she knew she didn’t want to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit.
Braid said playing on the LPGA circuit is very time–consuming and takes a great deal of dedication, and not everyone is cut out for that kind of lifestyle.
“There are very few people who fit the part for playing on Tour, and it just wasn’t something I was interested in,” Braid said.
She said her passion lies in teaching. Once Braid finished her undergraduate degree at Pfeiffer University, she became a member of both the LPGA and the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals.
Braid has been teaching golf for the past seven years in Charlotte, North Carolina. She taught players as young as 3 and as old as 80. Her job included teaching the players the fundamentals of the game — such as grip, posture, aim, alignment and ball position — and how to apply those skills when playing on the course.
Besides teaching the game, Braid said she enjoys being able to get to know her players and work with them to figure out a process that works specifically for each individual player.
“It is much more rewarding to me to be on the sideline helping the player develop a process to reach their goals,” Braid said. “I never felt the same joy playing the game as I have watching players grow and develop in golf and in life.”
Braid said she wanted the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with her players, which is why she chose to coach golf at the collegiate level.
Braid said she wasn’t always able to form long-lasting relationships with her students because she usually taught them for only a couple of weeks.
“I am excited to be with the team through every step of the process now, from goal setting to practice and then of course, tournaments,” she said.
Sophomore Lauren Saylor said she is excited to have a young LPGA professional as the new coach.
“I’ve taken lessons at home from a local LPGA member, and having that same dynamic at college is wonderful,” Saylor said.
Braid said she is looking forward to being able to spend individual time with each of the players during practices to enhance their separate skillsets.
Saylor said Braid will give them the tools needed to be successful and reach their goals based on her qualifications and experience with teaching.
“It is certain that she will be attentive to our individual goals, push us to be more competitive, and most importantly coach us towards a new chapter of success,” Saylor said.
Sophomore Kyra Denish said they hope the technical things Braid plans on teaching them during practice will help the team achieve its long-term goals.
“[I am] looking forward to seeing the practice drills and games Coach Braid has created as a teacher and how that will enable her to be a better instructor of our team,” Denish said.
As the current team is improving, Braid said she is hoping to recruit more players for the team. With such a small team this year, they are seeking to establish and build a program over the next couple of years.
Sophomore Indiana Jones said one of their long-term goals is to find players that could help the team make it to the NCAA Tournament.
During the fall, Braid said she would like to hold open tryouts to see if there are any girls women who played in high school and would be interested in playing at a collegiate level. She also said she is optimistic that she can find strong recruits that will help them win many tournaments.
Braid said she believes that by holding open tryouts and working with the girls women individually, the team will be very successful in both the fall and the spring.
“Getting the team focused this fall and working on their games through the winter will hopefully lead to another successful spring for the Bombers,” Braid said. “Bringing in top recruits for the spring and next year will be a big part of our goals for this year.”