By Corbin McGuire
When K-State’s women’s golf team took off for East Lansing, Michigan, for its first fall tournament last September, Ella Adams was not on the plane. Her sophomore season had started, but it did not feel like it.
For good reason.
Adams had failed to qualify for one of her team’s five spots in practice, a first for someone who played in every tournament last season. Even after she posted a disappointing scoring average as a freshman (77.07), this was different. This, as she put it, was a “real low” moment.
Fortunately, it was also a moment that triggered a positive change.
“I just realized, I guess, I do not belong here, staying in Manhattan when everyone else is traveling,” she said, “and then I stopped putting so much pressure on myself and I started to play well.”
Adams not only qualified for the next four tournaments, she led her team in scoring average (73.64) by a wide margin. She captured K-State’s best individual score in its last three tournaments of the fall, including a career-best 54-hole score of 213 at the Illini Invitational.
Again, Adams said her improved play spurred more from a mental adjustment than anything else. She was working on this mindset change before the missed tournament, but it seemed to accelerate everything and bring her quicker clarity.
“It just all kind of clicked at once. It made me realize that, in the big scheme of things, the score didn’t really matter. I just wanted to enjoy each moment being out there and enjoying them is then what leads to a good score,” Adams said, as K-State starts its spring season on Monday at the Texas State Invitational. “I realized I have a choice of how I can react to it, so I decided this was how I was going to go about it, as opposed to getting down on myself.”
K-State head coach Kristi Knight gave the same assessment of her Australian. Adams’ lower scores, Knight said, did not come from any specific swing adjustment or extra work on the putting green. They came from between her ears.
“She just really started to believe in herself more and be a better caddy to herself, being more accepting if a shot didn’t go the way she wanted to. She just kind of shrugged it off and didn’t let it put a dent in the belief of herself,” Knight said. “Ella’s really made an effort to not be so hard on herself on the golf course. She’s much less consumed with her mechanics. A bad shot is simply that. It’s one bad shot, and she just simply moves on and goes to the next one. Whereas a year ago or even right at the beginning of the year, I think she had a tendency to kind of let it linger around, carry it with her.”
Adams said she has put that problem behind her.
“I’ve had a pretty good attitude toward golf and the mental aspect,” she said. “I’m enjoying myself on the course more and believing in myself more. As opposed to worrying about the score, I’m just playing now.”
And playing well.
Adams brought her strong finish to the fall season home with her over winter break. She played in two tournaments, capped by the Australian Master of the Amateurs, the highest-ranking amateur tournament in her country. She finished tied for ninth in the 72-hole tournament at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Her performance highlighted a golf-heavy stint in Australia, where it is currently summer. She played upwards of 20 rounds and practiced every day to stay sharp for her return back to K-State, where she knew the weather would not allow as many full rounds.
“I made the most of it,” Adams laughed.
When she returned to Manhattan, Adams could not help but notice how much comfortable she has become with everything involved with being more than 9,000 miles away from home.
She now has good friends and lives with a fellow Australian in K-State high jumper Clare Gibson, alleviating some of the homesickness she felt as a freshman. Adams said even simple day-to-day things, like “knowing what goes on at practice and class,” have helped her.
“Last year I had no idea what I was in for,” she said. “Now, I understand how everything works a bit better. I feel more comfortable here.”
The comfort aspect, she added, allowed for her to change her attitude toward the game she loves. In turn, she said she’s “hitting more fairways, lots more greens,” and playing much more consistent.
Adams, whose current season scoring average would rank second-best in program history, already has her name in K-State’s record books. She shot a 7-under par 65 last season, the second-lowest 18-hole score by a Wildcat ever. She also followed it with a 76 and a 78. This season, however, she has only shot over 73 twice.
“I’m a lot more patient with it,” Adams said. “So, when I do miss putts, I don’t try to force it as much anymore, and that’s probably why I’ve been a lot more consistent.”
Knight said, with Adams’ work ethic and natural ability, there’s no point in speculating what her career could look like moving forward.
“I don’t necessarily think there’s a cap. I’ve been really happy for her, just watching her see the results because she does put in the practice time. As coaches, Jared (Helin) and I, it’s nice to see her get return on that investment and have some success,” Knight said. “She hasn’t played her best golf. It’s still out there. I think it’ll be fun to watch. I think she’s going to keep getting better.”
Source: Kansas State Sports