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Stanford nearly perfect as Grayhawk chapter closes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As Wake Forest won its first NCAA Championship Wednesday, the Grayhawk Golf Club chapter of women’s golf closes.

The chapter consisted of four years but only three championships due to the Covid year in 2021.

There was much we already knew about this week-long finale to the season, because we have seen it since 2015 when the women’s championship first went to match play to find a champion.

The championship is long. The teams that play in the final match will have a tee time eight times during the event. Continuing to teach how important endurance is. How important getting quality rest is.

But did we learn anything new?

We learned that Stanford was almost perfect at Grayhawk.

The Cardinal won the fictional stroke-play national championship in each of the three years here in Scottsdale compiling a head-to-head stroke-play record of 75-0. And let’s remind everyone that individually, Stanford players won the individual title in each of the three championships at Grayhawk. Rachel Heck won the title in 2021, followed by Rose Zhang claiming the last two in 2022 and 2023.

Total dominance for three years but with just one team title. We should be talking about dynasty. Instead, with just one title it may just be a side note in future tournament talk.

Walker’s squad was the only team to play in match play all three years. However, match play put the wrinkle in what was almost perfection in this chapter. The Cardinal went 4-2 winning the title just one time in 2022.

Head coach Anne Walker talked about how difficult Grayhawk can play.

“The course is so penalizing that errant shots immediately added up to big numbers, poor speed on the greens resulted in doubles and undisciplined strategy was costly,” she said. “The course exposed player’s weaknesses and we were pretty fortunate to have five steady players through all three years that helped us be in position to advance to match play.”

It was demanding and Stanford was the best each year in handling those demands, except for those two match play losses – Arizona in 2020 and Southern California this year.

“I think we performed well (at Grayhawk) over the three years because we had great depth in our lineup,” said Walker.

Walker added: “Grayhawk has been a fantastic host venue. The golf course is demanding and has tested the nerves and patience of the world’s best. It rewards the best golf shots and that has produced three terrific championships.”

Ole Miss won its first national title in 2021 at Grayhawk, with Stanford winning the 2022 event and Wake Forest this year.

“The student-athletes have thoroughly enjoyed being in Scottsdale, getting to know the local community and Grayhawk staff,” said Walker. “We will forever have wonderful memories of our time in Arizona for the championships.”

Those memories are so much more if you just look a little deeper.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek