Teeing it up
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos courtesy of American Athletic Conference
Golfing in Western New York has some disadvantages. The weather doesn’t help when you can only get out on the course from May until October. Golfers need to work on their game as much as they can - but it’s tough when they have to practice in doors.
University of South Florida sophomore Melanie Green knew when it came to college she wanted to go somewhere were she could work on her game all the time. What better place the sunshine and warmth of South Florida.
Green earned five letters while at Medina High School, and was the number one recruit in the class of 2020 from New York. She came to USF as a two-time state champion - and was ranked number 25 in the Golfweek Junior rankings and number 31 in the Rolex AJGA rankings.
“My main decision for picking school’s was just to be able to practice all year round,” stated Green. “Being from New York we had five months off, we had no option. To be able to have the opportunity to play all year round was just a blessing. Plus, the coaches are just amazing. They have always been so sweet and so kind to me ever since they reached out. They gave me a great opportunity that I just had to accept.”
The recruiting process wasn’t as easy, and fairytalish, as it is always made out to seem. For the most part, student-athletes have to reach out the coaches - and not the other way around. At times it can be a shock to the ego that an athlete has to reach out to a school and not the other way around.
At a point in the process, Green had to check her ego at the door - which she freely admits.
“I was told to reach out to coaches and do all that kind of stuff,” stated Green. “My ego was like nah if they want me they will reach out. It was very quick for me. It was funny because I played the PGA in the summer after I committed and all the schools wanted to talk to me, but they couldn’t. It’s just a blessing to be here, and I am glad they USF gave me the opportunity.”
It was a perfect fit for both Green and USF. The sophomore has come in and look anything like an underclassmen. She has stepped on the green and just dominated from the opening hole. Green played in all five tournaments of her spring season and was the Bulls’ low scorer in three of those events. She led the team in scoring average (74.80), rounds of par or better (5), rounds in the 60s (2) and top 10 finishes (2).
It is the kind of the start Medina product was hoping for, considering she didn’t get to play in any fall tournaments last year because of covid.
“It was definitely difficult because in the fall, especially for freshmen, that’s their year to get to know the team, get to travel with them and create those bonds with people,” stated Green. “It was really hard for me just to get to know people. I’m introverted, so that was just really hard - moving away from my family and all my friends. Going back to the spring it was a lot easier. It was just a lot easier transition into the spring.”
This season the sophomore has gotten off to an even better start. In a recent tournament, Green shot a career-best 65 (-7), which also stands as a new low mark for a single round in program history vs. par.
It’s the kind of start that Green was hoping to have after a string freshman campaign. She wanted to show that what she did her first year with the Bulls wasn’t a fluke. She went into the tournament on the heels of some really good qualifying rounds - which put her mind at ease when it came time to tee off.
“I had a couple great qualifying rounds leading up to the tournament,” stated Green. “I was performing before the tournament - which gave me confidence. When I got to the tee on the first day it was like a switch went on. I could just focus a lot better. I didn’t have any trouble focusing-, and just needed to do what I needed to do.”
For as good as Green has been over her high school, and the beginning of her college career, she knows there is always things to work on. Even the best golfers in the world still work on their games during the offseason.
That’s how Green has approached her time at USF. She is always looking to improve her game. Whether it’s her long game - or short game - there is always something that might need a little tweaking from time to time.
“I mean we can all get better,” stated Green. “I don’t think there was one particular thing that I could point out, but definitely just working my way around the golf course. Course management was definitely something that I needed to work on, and that I have improved over the year. Making right decisions on the golf course is something that I really needed to change - and I feel I have made the improvements.
If the going gets bad during the season she knows she has her family to lean on. Green’s dad was a former college baseball player - so he knows the ins and outs of playing at a high level.
But, Green doesn’t see him like that. They have a bond that goes well beyond sports.
“I don’t see my dad like that (as a former athlete). It’s more as a life aspect,” stated Green. “Of course we do have that athlete kind of bond. I don’t lean on him for those certain things. When I do talk to my dad, it’s more about life. We have a bigger bond than just sports.”