BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH, N.C. Lauren Doughtie admits that she is a trick-shot artist. She can use about any club in her bag to thread a golf ball through the smallest openings between tree branches or hit the ball off just about any ground surface.
Such talents are necessary for big-hitters like Doughtie.
“I definitely have always been a longer hitter, but not necessarily the most accurate hitter,” said the junior member of the Wolfpack women’s golf team. “When I was younger, I was very erratic. I learned how to hit a lot of trick shots: off the pine straw, through the trees.
“Now that I am a little more accurate off the tee, those shots actually help me a lot. If I do spray one, I still have those trick shots in my bag.”
The junior golfer from Suffolk, Va., hasn’t needed too many of them this fall for the No. 21 Wolfpack’s first two tournaments of the fall schedule. She has been consistently good by hitting the ball long and straight off the tee, and relying on her improving short game to post the team’s second best scoring average, 73.8. Sophomore Emily Street leads the team with a 73.0 average.
Last year, Doughtie led the Wolfpack with a school-record 75.9 stroke average, and posted the best finish of her career when she tied for second at the Wildcat Invitational in Lexington, Ky.
Now, after a sizzling summer amateur season, Doughtie hopes to continue her effective play, as coach Page Marsh’s team heads to Las Cruces, N.M., Monday through Wednesday to participate in New Mexico State’s Give Em Five Intercollegiate Tournament, the Pack’s first outing since it gained the first national ranking of Marsh’s eight-year tenure as head coach.
For Doughtie, who is ranked No. 71 in the nation by Golfstat and No. 76 by Golfweek/Sagarin, it’s another opportunity to shine, following her eighth-place finish at the Cougar Classic in early September.
Doughtie played exceptionally well during the summer at some of the nation’s oldest amateur golf events. She finished tied for fourth at the Women’s Eastern Amateur Championship, was the runner up at the 82nd-annual Virginia State Amateur and advanced to the round of 16 at the 105th-annual North & South Amateur Championship in Pinehurst.
Doughtie credits her strong play with the work she has put in at the NC State Golf Short-Game Practice Facility, a sparkling venue behind the Faculty Club that allows the Wolfpack’s varsity golfers a chance to work on their pitching, putting and short shorts that are so critical for low scores.
“There has been a dramatic improvement in those areas since I have been here,” Doughtie said. “I used to be the kind of golfer who would say to the ball Please hit the green and be kind of close so I can two-putt and move on.’ Now, I have a lot of confidence that I can hit it close and make the putt. I am hitting about 14 or 15 greens per round.”
Doughtie’s game wasn’t always like that. She had a reputation as a big hitter with a slightly over-aggressive swing, something she worked on with swing coach Kandi Comer while refining her game in high school. Her relationship with Comer, a college teammate of Marsh’s at North Carolina, is one of the many reasons Doughtie ended up playing for the Wolfpack.
Doughtie’s father, Mike, who taught his two daughters the game when they were young, attended NC State for one year. He also has siblings who live in the Raleigh area. So Doughtie grew up as a Wolfpack fan.
Doughtie decided at a young age that she would like to pursue playing professional golf she loved the traveling lifestyle of a world-class golfers and competing at the highest level of the sport. Her parents agreed to support her in that pursuit as long as she graduated from college first.
“That’s a pretty good deal for me all the benefits are coming my way,” she said with a smile. “I can play golf, prepare for the future and get a college degree. There’s not much to complain about there.”
Doughtie, a business major with a concentration in human resources, hopes to pursue coaching after her playing career is over.
And if neither of those things work out, she can always fall back on being a professional trick-shot artist, showing duffers how to get themselves out of bad situations on the golf course.
You may contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.