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With new leadership, Belles start anew

Pat Leonard | Friday, August 29, 2003

The Belles face a new challenge this season – new leadership.

Making the transition from coach to coach often can be slow and difficult, despite a team’s past history; the credentials of Mark Hamilton and the track record of this roster, however, should make things a little easier.

Hamilton joins Saint Mary’s as a qualified professional golf instructor. He taught at courses such as Medinah Country Club (Ill.), Palm Beach Polo Club (Fla.) and the US Golf Academy.

His team also has a good bit of experience. The Belles return their top five golfers from a team that placed fourth at the D-III NCAA Championships last season, including individual national champion Stefanie Simmerman. Saint Mary’s will begin that campaign this weekend when it travels to Green Lake, Wis at the Ferris State Invitational at Katke Golf Club.

Last season, the Belles finished in just eighth place at the same tournament; however, they set a record one-day low team score of 342 on the second day of the Invitational.

Posting five straight tournament victories last year, the group received leadership from veterans and newcomers.

Sophomore Megan Mattia, who had the low team score in three matches in the spring, came in second on the team and 14th overall at the NCAA championships with a 335.

Julia Adams, Chrissy Dunham and Elizabeth Hanlon are all back after closing the championships in 36th, 47th and 54th place, respectively.

Simmerman had the most impressive run at the season finale, beating the entire field and leading the Belles roster by 20 strokes. Her 76-82-77-80 scorecard bolstered the team all the way to its fourth place finish and into the spotlight.

It is that spotlight that attracted Hamilton, who hopes the team will continue to shine under his leadership this season.