UNLV women’s golf coach Amy Bush-Herzer believes her team grew the most during the summer.
She didn’t emphasize team practices or activities. Instead, she said it was her players participating in various summer tournaments, which included events attempting to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open.
Last season, the Rebels qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. Bush-Herzer believes their run to make the tournament last season, paired with the high stakes at some of the summer tournaments, has prepared the Rebels to repeat their success.
“It allowed them to know that they’re ready to play in the big events,” Bush-Herzer said. “They went and did it. Now, they’re tournament ready because of what they did over the summer.”
Several members of this year’s team were out at various summer tournaments.
Fifth-year senior Veronica Joels and senior Nicole Lorup participated in summer events to try and qualify for both the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur. Sophomore McKenzie Hall missed qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open by one-shot at the Southwestern Amateur in June.
Before freshman Thienna Huynh set foot on UNLV’s campus as an official member of the team, she won the United States Golf Association Women’s Four Ball event in Puerto Rico last April. The win, with partner Sara Im, qualified Huynh for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay (University Place, Washington) last August.
“The Rebels made the rounds this summer,” Bush-Herzer said.
Last season, the Rebels were a young team with six freshmen and two sophomores. Through their early practices and tournaments this season, Bush-Herzer noticed a stark difference in how her team is communicating. Not just between one another, but also realizing what they need to perform well on the golf course.
“They have a better understanding of their games,” Bush-Herzer said. “That comes with playing in big tournaments and knowing how to prepare better every week. They’re doing a good job showing maturity and being prepared with what they need to succeed.”
Bush-Herzer said she’s seeing the competition level rise amongst her team, noting the way they’ve been making the most of their preparation for events as a team instead of as individuals.
Joels, a fifth-year senior from Las Vegas, has been an anchor for the Rebels in her time in the program. Bush-Herzer said she was “excited and ecstatic” to hear that Joels was coming back to use her extra year of eligibility.
Bush-Herzer said Joels’ impact on the program goes beyond her leadership, citing the impact she’s made in the local golf community to serve as an example that the top local talent can succeed at UNLV.
“She really has catapulted that kids in Vegas want to be here,” Bush-Herzer said. “I can’t say enough about Veronica and her positive effect on the program.”
For the rest of the fall portion of their schedule, Bush-Herzer said she is looking to grow during this time for the spring portion of their schedule and build off their momentum from last season’s NCAA Tournament run.
The UNLV women’s golf team returns to action at the Jim West Invitational in San Marcos, Texas beginning Oct. 23.