Wittenberg Adds Women's Golf as 23rd Varsity Intercollegiate Sport

Female golfers will be toting Wittenberg bags again starting in the 2003-04 school year.

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Wittenberg University is proud to offer as many athletic and academic opportunities as possible to its more than 2,000 students. Beginning in the 2003-04 school year, women's golf will be re-introduced as a varsity intercollegiate sport after two years as a club sport.

"We're happy to provide this opportunity for the female student-athletes at our institution," said Wittenberg University Director of Athletics and Recreation Garnett Purnell. "We're setting a standard for schools in our conference."

Wittenberg becomes the first member of the North Coast Athletic Conference to offer women's golf as a varsity intercollegiate sport. Pat Williams Clouse '64, who has been a member of the university's Health, Fitness and Sport faculty since 1968, will serve as the team's head coach. Clouse started the Tiger women's swimming and diving team in 1970 and served as head coach for 23 years, and she also coached the women's lacrosse team for 14 years, starting in its first official season in 1972.

Clouse is not the first head coach of women's golf, however. That honor goes to women's sports pioneer Betty Dillahunt '46, a Wittenberg coaching legend and retired faculty member who guided the first edition of the Tiger women's golf program from 1972-77. That team was created to accommodate the interest of several outstanding student-athletes, including Katie Biszantz '75, who was elected into Wittenberg's Athletics Hall of Honor in 1991 for her collegiate accomplishments and went on to play several years on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour in the late 1970s.

Dillahunt said the team disbanded after Title IX led to the creation of numerous scholarship programs at Division I schools. The interest that led to the program's introduction waned because most top high school golfers were able to get athletic scholarships at other schools (Wittenberg does not offer athletic scholarships). She is pleased to see the women's golf back on the Wittenberg landscape as a varsity sport.

"I think it's a good idea," Dillahunt said. "I'm happy to see it re-activated. I think there will be a lot of interest in it."

Much of that interest has been cultivated by the efforts of Erin Mowrey '04, a Wittenberg junior who took it upon herself to start the women's golf club team. Mowrey had played varsity golf at St. Ursula Academy in Toledo, and she expressed a desire to play in college to Purnell and Clouse during her freshman year.

She personally recruited other players by posting flyers around campus, and the club team was officially formed in spring 2001. The team played a full schedule of tournaments in the 2001-02 school year and again this year, turning in several solid finishes, according to Clouse. Now with 13 players on the roster, it is apparent that there is enough interest to warrant inclusion as a varsity intercollegiate sport, and Mowrey is already planning ahead.

"I think it's now a matter of hitting the ground running in the first year and building a strong program," she said.

Clouse is also getting geared up for the recruiting process and all of the busywork that goes along with being a head coach. She is also looking forward to following in the footsteps of her friend and former colleague Dillahunt.

"I'm delighted and honored to have the opportunity to reinstate this program," Clouse said. "It has all the earmarks of having great success in the near future."