⛳ 1990 Big Eight Champs Remembered
Jumping into the pond on Hole 18 at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, after claiming the Big Eight Conference Championship title is a fond memory for the 1990 Kansas women’s golf team.
The team had a strong recruiting class that year, including sophomores Laura Martin, Laura Meyers and Shelly Triplett. Triplett, from Pullman, Washington, said joining seniors Sherri Atchison and Donna Lowen made for a well-rounded team without any weak links.
Kansas defeated the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, who were then ranked No. 4 in the nation, by two strokes to take home the 1990 conference title. There was a lot of mutual respect between the Jayhawks and Cowboys, as both teams competed in the regular season against one another.
“It was surreal and awesome since they had dominated the conference. After the first day of play, we knew we had a good chance to beat them and win it all,” Lowen, a native from Hays, Kansas recollects.
Not only was there a high physical demand for the five women, but there was a strong emphasis on mental toughness as well. Then-Kansas Head Coach Brad Demo started working on the players’ mental side of golf in addition to setting goals, Lowen mentioned. The phrase “MTXE” was put on each player’s golf bags, which stood for “Mental Toughness Extra Effort.”
“I don’t think a lot of people knew how much time we put in for practice year-round,” Lowen said. “We had a weight-lifting program in addition to running and aerobics during the offseason.”
The team chemistry of Kansas’ 1990 team was unlike that of any other team within the women’s golf program. Meyers said the confidence her teammates had in each other allowed them to develop positive mindsets and recover quickly after poor shots.
“It was great to all be one big family cheering for each other, no jealousy if someone played better than you,” Meyers said. “I remember we all just wanted each other to play the best we could and whatever happened would be good enough as long as none of us gave up.”
Coach Demo said winning the championship and getting an NCAA Championship bid was a dream come true, especially on their home course. He mentioned it was a great tournament and it came down to a putting tournament, where the Jayhawks were shaper throughout.
“The long hours of practice, the dedication, the mental preparation was paying off,” Meyers said. “We earned the right to play with the elite teams in women’s golf. We finally earned recognition on a bigger stage and earned respect from other programs.”
After being recruited by the University of Texas to play golf and receiving attention around the NCAA, Meyers thinks back to a conversation with the Texas head coach that is her own personal motivation to this day.
“It was awesome for me to be able to walk up to her and say, ‘I thought you said I’d never make it to the NCAA tournament when I chose such a poor program like KU over Texas?’ That was my motivation to work hard,” Meyers said.
After winning the Big Eight title, Kansas advanced to its first-ever NCAA Championship in 1990. The team of five consisted of three sophomores and only two seniors to lead the team. The only two seniors competing in nationals were Atchison and Lowen.
“When we finally got the (NCAA) bid, it was so thrilling that the seniors were going to have another tournament,” Triplett said.
The team found themselves traveling to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the NCAA National Championship where the Jayhawks placed 14th. Triplett said the course they played on for nationals was one of the hardest she had ever played on.
Lindsay Kuhle was named the new Kansas Women’s Golf Head Coach in July 2021 after nine winning seasons at the University of Denver. Kuhle was welcomed to Lawrence by a fellow Jayhawk.
“There were a few people that really welcomed me to Lawrence. One of them was Shelly Triplett who was on that team. I’ve become good friends with her and she has supported me in getting the message out to former players and supporters of the program,” Kuhle said.
Inspired by the underdogs of 1990, Kuhle hopes for her team to experience the same feeling as they compete in the 2022 Big 12 Conference Championship in Hockley, Texas, April 22-24. Each player received an individual invitation to compete in the Big 12 Championship. Kuhle emphasized it’s a really big deal for them to know that they earned it throughout the entire year.
“My biggest motivation is improving the team,” Kuhle said. “We have a goal to place in the top five in the Big 12. We believe in getting better every round of every tournament and to improve from the previous year. I am here to make this team better and give the players a competitive experience.”