My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.
Western Illinois senior Ashley Jeffers writes about her experience at the 2015 Summit League Women's Golf Championship:
Saturday, April 18
On Saturday morning, all five of us met coach at the golf course at 8:30 in the morning to start our trip to The Summit League Championships! We had a three-hour drive ahead of us since the closest airport with Southwest Airlines was the St. Louis International Airport. Many of us slept on our way and we stopped just before the airport to get Panera for lunch. By now, we were informed that our flight was delayed 45 minutes. We parked the van and took a shuttle to the airport. Our team got all our bags checked and made our way through security. As I walked through the metal detector, the alarm sounded and I was randomly selected for a search. My last collegiate tournament ever and it was the first time I had ever been searched! Finally, our plane arrived and once we landed in San Francisco we picked up our minivan to make the two-hour drive to Seaside, California. Along the way we got dinner at Chili’s, and once we arrived at the Holiday Inn we moved to our rooms for the night.
Sunday, April 19
Our practice round on Sunday wasn’t until 12:30 p.m., so we all slept in and got some breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel around 11 a.m. and went to the Bayonet Golf Course. Once there, we all headed to the range to get some practice in before our tee time. Right before we teed-off, our coach came and asked us what we wanted for lunch. During the practice round, we played as a five-some and most of our parents came out to watch. The practice round took a little over five hours, and once we were done we rushed back to the hotel to shower and change before the banquet. The banquet started at 7 p.m. and we were served a great meal and awards were given. There was a coach’s meeting after the banquet, so our coach let me take the team back to the hotel in the minivan. On our way back to the hotel, a few of the girls wanted desert so we stopped at a McDonald's and got ice cream sundaes and cookies! Later that night, coach called us all together in a room to have a team meeting and then we went to bed.
Monday, April 20
Our team was ranked seventh, so we were in the first tee time with the eighth and ninth ranked teams. The first tee time was at 8 a.m. and we usually get to the golf course an hour early, so we left the hotel at 6:45 a.m. This meant that we got up at 6:00 that morning. During the first round of the championships, we were held closely to a four hour and thirty-eight minute round. This was the fastest round we’d played all season, and we were quite happy with that pace. Since we were in tee times, my teammates in front of each other would stay and watch our entire team finish. Once everyone was finished and ate their lunch, we practiced to try and improve on our problems from that day. We finally left the golf course around 3pm. Most of us had our parents in town so we were given the afternoon off to do as we wished. Most of us did some kind of shopping or touristy things, since there is no shopping in Macomb. Since we had been in Monterey for spring break this year, no one really went to see Pebble Beach because we had done that as a team in March. Once everyone was back at the hotel, we had another team meeting to discuss our rounds and went to bed.
Tuesday, April 21
Once again my team was in the first group of the day, so our morning was much like Monday’s. We left the hotel at 6:45 a.m. and once again we finished our second round in four hours and thirty-eight minutes. Once we were done, our team practiced and once again we left the golf course around 3 p.m. A lot of us showered and changed and went down to cannery row to walk the shops and see the seals on the beach. I ended up getting dinner with my parents and went to see the Furious 7 movie, which was amazing! My parents dropped me back off at the hotel and I ended up packing since we were leaving for San Francisco after our round tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 22
Today was the final round of the tournament and once again my team was in the first round of tee times. We had the same routine as the previous two days in the morning. However, this was the final collegiate round ever for one of my teammates—Jess Knepp—and I. This round was by far my best round of the tournament and on hole 17 I asked my coach to walk with me while I played the last hole of my college year. She walked with me to keep me from getting emotional and I ended up birding my last hole. After my birdie, I started to tear up but held it together until I came off the 18th green and saw my parents, Jess’ parents, and Jess crying. Jess and I had played together for four years, we were roommates, and we had both just finished our last tournament ever of our college career! It was such a bittersweet feeling. After all the pictures and farewells to our parents, we got in our van and headed up to San Francisco. Our flight wasn’t until tomorrow, so on our way up we decided to stop at the Ghirardelli factory outlet store and we looked into getting tickets to a Giants game. We ended up getting standing room tickets to a San Francisco Giants game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. None of us were Giants or Dodgers fans, but we all loved baseball! During the game, we noticed two women who looked like LPGA players and we were right! Our team met Katherine Kirk and Amelia Lewis who were playing at the LPGA event, Swinging Skirts, the next day. We stayed at the game until after the fifth inning and then left to head to our hotel because we had an early morning flight.
Thursday, April 23
Today was the day that we had to head back to Macomb. Our flight left at 6:15 a.m., but we were a half hour away from the airport. We left our hotel at 3:30 in the morning, returned our rental car, and got to the airport around 4:15 a.m. Once we got through security, we all got bagels at the only place that was open in the airport. Our flight was on time and we left for our layover in Dallas. We landed in Dallas around noon and our next flight wasn’t until 1:30 p.m., which ended up getting delayed until about 2:15 p.m. Once we were in the air, our flight had no issues and we landed in St. Louis around 4 p.m. There was a ton of traffic jams around the airport so we ended up taking back roads back to Macomb. Along the way, we stopped and got dinner. It wasn’t until around 8:30 p.m. that we finally made it back to Macomb. It was a long trip, an emotional one, but I will never forget any of my trips with the Western Illinois Women’s Golf Team.