As Page Marsh played her way through the golfing ranks, her father always said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Those words still resonate with Marsh, who is in her 15th season as N.C. State’s women’s golf coach. The process of building the Wolfpack into a nationally-competitive program has not been simple or quick, but the results show progress in the right direction.
Under Marsh, the program’s only coach since N.C. State reinstated women’s golf in 2000, the Wolfpack has made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and advanced to two NCAA Championships — in 2012 and 2014. N.C. State finished last season ranked No. 23 nationally.
“The game of golf takes patience at times,” said Marsh, an All-Atlantic Coast Conference player at North Carolina in 1984-85, who played professionally briefly before regaining her amateur status and extending the combined number of North Carolina Women’s Amateur and Women’s Carolina Amateur titles to 11.
“I believe in growth over time and have always worked toward that through shaping practices, encouraging new growth and, sometimes, you have to take steps back to take steps forward in the long run.”
The Wolfpack hopes to take another step forward by winning its first ACC Women’s Championship April 17-19 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro. That would entail getting past reigning champion Duke, which has won 19 of the 26 championships played, including the last three.
“It’s great to have the best right next door,” said Marsh of measuring the Wolfpack’s program against the Blue Devils, who have won six national titles, including 2014. “I love working to be the best and I enjoy being around people who are the best at things. I find it very inspiring. I love their energy.”
While Marsh is working to raise the Wolfpack program to an elite level, she is cognizant of the positive impact made by the opening of Lonnie Poole Golf Course on campus in July 2009.
“Oh, it has made a huge difference in recruiting,” she said. “Just the opportunity to have the recruit get here on campus is a small victory, but then to hear them say yes (to a scholarship offer) … is a big hurdle.”
Marsh is hopeful more victories are in store for the Wolfpack this spring, but her roster took a hit before Christmas when senior Augusta James decided to turn professional.
James, an All-ACC performer in 2014, tied for 13th at the NCAA Championships and then won the Canadian Women’s Amateur in July. In the fall James advanced to the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, finishing high enough to earn full status on the Symetra Tour in 2015.
But Marsh’s mentality is to move on. With a six-player roster that features three underclassmen. N.C. State tied for eighth and finished 10th in the team’s two starts heading into spring break.
“We have had a couple of rough starts this spring, but everyone’s games are starting to evolve to the place they need to be,” senior Lindsay McGetrick said. “I think we’re growing every day and we are going to be peaking when the ACC Championship rolls around, then [NCAA] regionals and nationals. It hasn’t been an easy start, but I see good things in our future.”
Marsh was equally pleased with the players’ collective mindset before disbanding for the break.
“The most positive aspect was everybody was very vocal about the things they needed to address before we got back together, and that was very encouraging,” she said.
“I would not have anyone here if I didn’t believe in them, and having played the game myself I realize we all learn the game at different times. All you can control is the process. I walked it, I believe it and I understand it. And I really support them in that way.”
McGetrick has completely bought into Marsh’s philosophy. McGetrick’s four top-10 finishes in this season’s first five starts equal the total number of top-20 finishes she had in her three previous seasons. In early March, McGetrick contended at the Lady Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., before tying for second.
“I’ve put in a lot of work on my game throughout the past couple of years and it’s nice to see the hard work is finally paying off,” said McGetrick, the daughter of noted instructor Mike McGetrick. “I think my game is pretty solid right now. I can definitely depend on my swing and my short game and my putting, which is an awesome feeling and boosts my confidence.”
McGetrick and junior Rachael Taylor, of Germany, who has N.C. State’s only other top-20 finish this season, were recognized in February by Golfweek magazine as two of the most improved players of the fall season. The duo, along with senior Vivian Tsui, of Canada, will be expected to shoulder the team’s leadership responsibilities.
“Their experience, especially down the stretch when we play courses those three are quite familiar with, is what the others will feed off of,” Marsh said. “They have been around and understand what we have done well and not done well, and they are very honest and open about those experiences. They know the pitfalls because they’ve experienced them, so hopefully they can turn around help the younger players try and avoid the same mistakes.”
High Point’s Cecily Overbey has made significant contributions to the team having played in five tournaments as a freshman. Sophomore Stephanie Pribonic of Wake Forest in the Triangle has played in three events this year.
Marsh knows her team has been working hard, but a little fortune in the ACC Women’s Championship would not hurt.