For years -- at least since Title IX showed up some 15 years ago -- universities such as Furman, Tulsa, Miami, Fla., Arizona, Arizona State and San Jose State have been among the kingpins of women's college golf.
With little fanfare, the University of Georgia, under former coach Liz Murphy, had solid team performances at the national level and sent a talented group of individuals to the LPGA Tour. Now, with Murphy as the director of women's athletics, Baltimore native Beans Kelly is continuing the Bulldogs tradition.
Kelly, who just capped her sixth season as head coach with a second selection as Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, is having a busy week at the Mazda LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club. Six former Georgia All-Americans played at least the first two rounds.
She caddied for Stephanie Lowe Maynor and had the mixed emotions of having another of her former players, Nanci Bowen, in the same threesome. Maynor, who has had four top-10 finishes this year, saw two bad swings lead to a triple bogey and a double bogey in Thursday's 73, then never got going on her 27th birthday Friday, shooting 75 and missing the cut by a stroke.
At the same time, Bowen, 24, has a three-round total of 4-over-par 217.
"That was pretty neat," Kelly said, slipping Maynor's bag off her shoulder after Thursday's round. "Aside from those two bad swings, Steph played well, and almost had a hole-in-one. Nanci was 1-under at one point. She did a great job."
In addition to Maynor and Bowen, Kelly coached another of the week's players, Sue Thomas, who recovered from a 77 to shoot 72, but missed the cut by two shots. The other three in the field were Mitzi Edge, Cindy Pleger Mackey and Cindy Schreyer, all of whom had played with Kelly during her first two undergraduate years in the early 1980s. Edge advanced and is at 218 through three rounds, but Schreyer (76-75) and Mackey (78-74) did not.
Maynor, a native of Chester, England, came to this country to combine school and golf, something she could not do at home. She picked Georgia because of the warm climate and because it was easier to get home from Atlanta than from a Western city.
"I was a little older than my teammates, so I think it gave me a different perspective," Maynor said. "Beans is a good coach. She is smart enough to know that most of the players come in with sound games, so her efforts are more mental than physical. She keeps her players focused."
Thomas, 25, from Texarkana, Texas, who stunned her friends when she enrolled at Georgia, said that "since Beans was a player, she knew what to say, and when to say it. She is a real positive person, and I still think about some of things she taught me. She also helped prepare us for tour life. She knew what it was like, and how tough it would be."
Kelly, 32, has changed little from her amateur years in Lutherville, when she included two Baltimore Women's Metropolitan titles in a varied collection of honors. There were two years at Georgia, a stint on the Women's Asian tour, and a couple of years of mini-tour life and work as a club professional in Florida and Georgia.
When Murphy asked Kelly to come back as her assistant, there was one very strong string attached -- Kelly had to complete the work for her degree. It says a lot for Kelly that she was able to accomplish this last year, a feat that drew rave reviews from zTC family and friends.
"It was strange," Kelly recalled, "going on trips with the team and I'd have a backpack of books just like they did. It was tough explaining why I, too, was studying on the plane. And there were the endless questions after a tournament coaches meeting and they'd go off to socialize and I'd go off to study. It was humiliating.
"I often wondered where, or when, it was going to end. Then, as I did more and more and the time spent got longer and longer, it became more worthwhile. For the first time in my life, something had me by the horns. I'm such an independent, free-spirited person, it was hard to keep going.
"Besides the degree, something good came of it, because it gave me a different outlook as a coach. I realized the studies came first and the golf was secondary. Not all coaches have that perspective."
Edge pointed to Kelly's spirit and enthusiasm as being contagious. Golfers are successful independent people, and it takes a special person to work with them.
"I'm not surprised she is doing well," Schreyer said. "She is the type of person who, if she sets her mind to something will get it done. She will always be successful whether she has a skill for that particular thing or not. She finds a way to do things, no matter what."
Kelly painted a good self-portrait when she said: "I get so fired up, my intensity wears off on the team. It's fun, but if you do it right, you give so much of yourself that you reach a breaking point. I don't do things halfhearted. I give it my all . . . and have nothing left."
She has plenty left, however, when it comes to players back in Athens, Ga. This year's team, which finished fifth in the NCAA championships, was made up of three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. And, waiting in the wings, is recent Athens Academy graduate Vicki Goetze, a former U.S. Women's Amateur champion and the No. 1 women's amateur in the country. She will enroll at Georgia in the fall . . . and the tradition continues.
Today--LPGA Championship, Bethesda CC, 8:20 a.m. Tomorrow--U.S. Women's Open qualifying, Columbia CC, Chevy Chase, 7:30 a.m.; Middle Atlantic PGA Pro-Senior tournament, Longview GC, 8 a.m.; MAGA Father-Son, Prince George's CC, Mitchellville, 8 a.m.; PGA Junior qualifying (Washington area), Chevy Chase Club, 8 a.m. Friday-Saturday-Sunday--Maryland Stroke Play championship, Mount Pleasant GC, 6:30 a.m.