When Converse decided to offer an NCAA Division II golf program the school was still called a college.
Ten years later the College is a University and the campus which until recently was women only is now co-ed.
In 2015 Converse hired Spartanburg native Patti McGowan to guide the Valkyries’ young program.
McGowan played college at Furman before transferring and graduating from Florida International University.
After playing professionally for a time she turned her attention to teaching.
McGowan spent many years working with David Leadbetter at the Leadbetter/IMG Academy.
After refining her teaching skills McGowan went on to be recognized for 15 years as one of Golf Digests’ Top 100 teachers.
She was on the initial Golf Digest “Top Women Teachers list and is still recognized as one of the areas top instructors.
But since becoming Converse’s coach most of her instruction has been working with the Valkyries golf program.
As a new program McGowan has spent several years building recruiting relationships that are starting to pay dividends on the course.
There have been some successes as the program competes against established and relatively well funded Division II programs in the area.
The Converse program has produced a Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year, a Player of the Year as well as a number of Academic All-Conference selections and over a dozen All Tournament team selections.
McGowan has raised the quality of golfer enrolling at the Spartanburg school and believes some very good days are ahead for the program.
“Going co-ed will certainly help with recruiting and the University has helped by increasing our budget,” she said.
Besides improving the teams visibility through recruiting Converse has also benefit from the NCAA Transfer Portal..
“This year we have one player who transferd in and we have another who graduated high school early and joined the program for the spring,” she said.
Lizzie Madden was a member of the state championship teams at Blythewood and has stepped right up to college level play leading the Valkyries in scoring at several events.
“With the recruits we will be brining in I think we have a solid foundation to build from going forward,” said McGowan.
This year’s team will graduate three important players who have helped build a foundation for the program.
“I can’t say enough about what outstanding teammates and great ladies our seniors are and how important they have been to our program,” she said.
At some point in each senior’s career they have earned All-Conference or Academic All-Conference honors.
Sydney Grimes from Virginia earned both Academic and All Conference honors.
Emma Reid from Flat Rock. NC and Katie Spurling from Byrnes High School also earned post season honors while helping to advance the program.
Now with a little more visibility and funding McGowan expects the program to take the next step.
“When I first got here good teams would shoot 310 for a competitive finish in tournaments, now it is below 300 so we have to step up our game and I think we are capable of doing that,” said the Converse coach.
At the Conference Carolinas championship Grimes and Madden both earned All Conference honors.
Grimes finished in a tie for 8th place individually while the Valkyries as a team finished 7th to end the 2022 season.
Categories: College Golf
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