Women's golfers conquer state of Tennessee
May 30, 2013
by Andy Boggs
Commodores Lauren Stratton and Kendall Martindale have coupled collegiate success with victories in the Tennessee Women's Amateur and Women's Open.
Kendall Martindale and Lauren Stratton are the leaders of the nationally-ranked Commodore women's golf team, and both hail from the state of Tennessee. They also are members of an elite group that has claimed the state's top two tournaments--the Tennessee Women's Amateur Championship and the Golf Capital of Tennessee Women's Open Championship--in the same summer.
They are two of only three golfers to accomplish that "double," joining former Commodore Sarah Jacobs (`04), who raised both trophies prior to her senior season at Vanderbilt in 2003. Martindale, a sophomore this year, won both tournaments as an incoming freshman in the summer of 2011, while Stratton, a senior in 2012-13, won the Open and the Amateur last summer.
Ironically, Stratton beat Martindale, 1-up, in match play competition of the semifinal round of the 2012 Tennessee Amateur.
"We don't talk about it much," said Stratton, who hails from Thompson Station. "We've played back and forth throughout the years, and we play so many tournaments. Certain ones mean more than others, yes, but it's still a tournament, and it's nice to get the W, no matter the tournament."
Despite the modesty, both players have contributed to the Commodores' dominance of the state of Tennessee in the women's golf arena, and both have helped continue Vanderbilt's inclusion in the national conversation about the country's best collegiate golf programs.
The Commodores are a major player on the national scene, having been ranked in the top 10 for most of the season, and successfully hosted the sport's national championship in May of 2012, when the team finished 11th. In fact, the 2012 appearance by Vanderbilt at the Vanderbilt Legends Club was the program's third consecutive in the national championship, a program first.
The Commodores, who made their 14th consecutive appearance in the postseason this month, had two first-team All-Americans last season in Stratton and Marina Alex.
A native of New Jersey, Alex graduated last May as one of the university's most decorated athletes, garnering two first-team All-America accolades and earning SEC Player of the Year honors on two occasions. But much of the team's success over the years can be attributed to the quality of golfer the Commodores' have recruited from the state of Tennessee.
Although there were a few players from the state of Tennessee prior to Jacobs' arrival, the Nashville native helped put the Commodores on the map, especially in her home state, with her State Amateur and Open wins in 2003. Jacobs, who like Martindale and Commodore great Peggy Harmon Brady won the Tennessee Amateur twice, defeated Commodore teammate May Wood, 1-up, in the finals at the Black Creek Mountain Golf Club in Chattanooga in 2003. At the Tennessee Open at Greystone Golf Club in Dickson, Jacobs defeated Melanie Hagewood of Texas, after shooting a final-round 68.
In the summer of 2011, Martindale won her second Tennessee Amateur after defeating Courtney Shelton of Franklin, 6 and 4, at the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough. She also won in 2009 at the Memphis Country Club, defeating future LPGA player and Alabama All-American Brooke Pancake of Chattanooga, 3 and 2.
At the 2011 Open in Crossville, Martindale defeated Pancake by two strokes at the Stonehenge Course at the Fairfield Community Club. Martindale's victory in 2011 snapped a seven-year run at the Tennessee Open of professional winners (included in that streak was 2004 champion Courtney Jacobs, a former `Dore).
"The odds of winning both are so small, so actually doing it is such a great accomplishment," said Martindale, who is from Jefferson City. "I think I was one of the youngest to win the State Open, but I didn't think I had a chance to win it, because it was the first time I had played over at Stonehenge. I was just going over there to have fun."
Stratton did the "double" in 2012, defeating Ashley Averitt, 4 and 2, in the 18-hole final of the Tennessee Amateur at Foxland Harbor Golf Course in Gallatin after beating Martindale in the semifinals. At the Open on the Stonehenge Course in Crossville, she defeated Mo Martin of California by one stroke.
"The Amateur was the first time playing [that event], so that was kind of interesting," said Stratton. "I love playing match play, because we don't get to do it very often, so it's always fun to see how the bracket plays out. With the State Open, I had just come off a big travel month, so to see a lot of local players that we used to play junior golf with growing up was good. It always puts you in a good mood to play against familiar faces."
Luckily for Vanderbilt, a good deal of those familiar faces end up as teammates, with the future looking bigger and brighter for the Commodore women's golf team. When asked about Vanderbilt's past successes in the state of Tennessee and the elite state of the current program, Stratton had a very simple explanation.
"Good recruiting and keeping local kids close to home," said Stratton. "You don't see it happen too often, especially with golf. Being able to see talent at a younger age, even when we may have not seen it ourselves. It's good for the program to be put on the map in some sense, especially in the state of Tennessee."
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