Before a new group of recruits even arrived on campus, there’s reason to believe that a rebuilding phase might not be necessary for the Wake Forest women’s golf team.
Coach Dianne Dailey’s newest players produced a noteworthy summer that should bode well when they officially wear the black and gold.
“I thought this would be a rebuilding year (coming up) because we lost three of our five, but maybe we can step in right away,” Dailey says. “It looks like it’s going to be very competitive this year. We have a nice core group.”
The Wake Forest freshmen could be in line to make a big collective impact when the season begins with the Cougar Classic in Charleston on Sept. 11-13.
The incoming freshmen include Marissa Dodd, who reached the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links final; Allison Emrey, who won the American Junior Golf Association’s Golf Pride Junior Classic in Pinehurst; and Emily Wright, who finished eighth in the Women’s Eastern Amateur and advanced to the round of 32 in the Women’s Western Amateur.
So Dailey will welcome a battle-tested freshman class. And there’s more experience coming on board with transfer Greta Lange of Shorter University. Lange, who’s from Germany, was an NAIA All-American as a freshman and sophomore.
Dailey, entering her 24th season, has directed the program to four Atlantic Coast Conference titles, including the 2009 and 2010 crowns. She was bracing for a bit of a waiting period as newcomers gain experience, but she changed her thinking a few weeks ago.
“I started seeing the results (from this summer),” she says. “We’ve had some pretty good recruits coming in. The momentum these three have will probably help them with their confidence. It’s fun to see them and what they’ve done this summer.”
In many ways, the trio of recruits began bonding a year ago as they made commitments to golf for Wake Forest.
Emrey, who is from Charlotte, was so immersed that she sent knitted black-and-gold head covers to the other recruits in the class. As Dailey watched the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links finals on television, she noticed those head covers on Dodd’s bag.
“I know they’re excited about coming and playing,” says Dailey. “They started getting together last summer and corresponding with each other.”
Dodd, of Allen, Texas, made a memorable surge through the field in Bandon, Ore., in the Publinks, where Wake Forest had two of the final eight players. Rising senior Cheyenne Woods, the ACC champion, was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
Dodd finished as runner-up to Brianna Do of reigning NCAA team champion UCLA. Earlier, she conquered UCLA All-American Tiffany Lua in the semifinals.
Dailey says Dodd lacked tournament experience compared to some others in her age bracket. She made up for that in some ways by playing 160 holes during the Publinks week.
She also had the benefit of the exposure that accompanied her rise through the tournament. She earned exemptions into the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur championships later in the summer. She opted out of the junior event, and failed to reach the match-play portion of the women’s amateur.
Dodd should show up at Wake Forest familiar with other ACC schools. Her father, Mark Dodd, is a former Duke soccer player, and her mother, Stacie Dodd, is a North Carolina State graduate.
Emrey also failed to advance after stroke play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August at Rhode Island Country Club, but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm regarding the incoming class.
Emrey, who played in high school for state champion Ardrey Kell, notched the AJGA title at Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, improving from a third-place finish in 2010. It was her first AJGA victory and she placed 14th or better in her four AJGA events this year.
Dailey says Emrey, who won the individual Class 4-A state title in 2008 as a sophomore, has improved significantly since last summer.
“She is so much more consistent,” Dailey says.
Most notable to the coach was Emrey’s dedication to improving her short game.
Perhaps most noteworthy, though, for Emrey was the 2-over-par 74 she posted to become co-medalist in a U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier July 14 at Walnut Grove Country Club in Ohio. Coming a week after the AJGA triumph, that result put her in the U.S. Women’s Amateur field after she was an alternate last year.
Wright, of Mason, Ohio, led William Mason High School to three consecutive Division I state championships. She was the individual state titlist in her division as a senior.
Dailey says Lange will fit in nicely after the departure of Michelle Shin, who turned pro after two college seasons.
Lange has two years of eligibility remaining.
“We wanted to have someone in that junior class,” Dailey says. “It worked out perfectly. (Lange) just wanted to play at a little higher level.”